How Does the Safe and Sound Campaign Improve Workplace Safety?August 11, 2020
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate of workplace injuries and fatalities has decreased by over 60 percent in the United States since the Occupational Safety and Health Act was passed in 1970. Despite the improvements in workplace safety, over 5,000 employees are fatally injured each year at work. An additional 3.6 workers suffer serious injuries or occupational illnesses.
To raise awareness of the importance of workplace safety, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) developed the Safe and Sound campaign, which is a nationwide effort to encourage every workplace to develop effective safety and health programs. Safe and Sound Week recognizes workplace health and safety programs that have been particularly successful. In addition, from August 10 to 16, participants can discover new and effective ways to protect workers, eliminate hazards, and create a safer workplace.
Organizations across all industries are encouraged to participate in the event and share their success stories. The Safe and Sound Week website provides a wide range of activities that organizations can select for their workplace. The National Safety Council (NSC) offered the following resources that workers can use to complement the resources provided by OSHA during Safe and Sound Week:
- Workplace injuries infographic: The infographic highlights important statistics about workplace injuries. For example, every seven seconds, a worker is injured on the job, which translates to 510 workers per hour, 88,500 per week, and 4,600,000 per year. The top three workplace injuries are overexertion, contact with objects and equipment, and slip and falls. The occupations with the highest number of injuries include service work, such as police and firefighters, transportation and shipping, manufacturing and production, installation, maintenance and repair, and construction.
- Safety checkup: This checklist identifies potential health risks that may increase the risk of a workplace illness or injury. Workers are strongly encouraged to undergo regular checkups with a health care professional.
- Fatigue resources: Workers who are sleep deprived, or who work long or irregular shifts, may be vulnerable to workplace injuries. Unfortunately, over 43 percent of workers are sleep deprived and safety issues include reduced worker productivity, which can cost employers up to $3,100 per employee each year.
- Safe at Work Pledge: One way for a company to demonstrate its commitment to safety is to encourage all workers to take the following Safe at Work Pledge:
- Never compromise one’s own safety or the safety of coworkers to get the job done.
- Actively look for hazards, promptly report them, and take appropriate action to warn others.
- Be a good safety role model for friends and family, even when off the job.
- Address opioids in the organization: Educate employees about opioid impairment, recognize the signs of impairment, and support employees who are struggling with opioid use or an addiction to prescription drugs.
- Cell phone policies: Creating and enforcing a cell phone policy can reduce the risk of workplace accidents, particularly for workers whose job requires them to drive. Talking and texting while driving is among the top causes of distracted driving accidents. Employers should discuss the dangers of cellphone use while on the job and provide resources that can help reduce the risk of workplace accidents related to cell phone use.
What are the Most Important Elements of a Successful Safety Program?
Establishing an effective health and safety program is an important step toward preventing workplace hazards and reducing the risk of occupational injuries and illnesses. From construction sites and warehouses to offices and manufacturing plants, the following are key components to any successful health and safety program:
- Strong management leadership
- Worker participation
- Systematic approach to identifying and fixing workplace hazards
What are the Benefits of a Safety and Health Program?
Many injuries and illnesses that affect workers each year can be prevented if there is an effective safety and health program in place. In addition to protecting workers, these programs can improve the organization’s safety and health performance, save money, improve the company’s reputation, and help the company be more competitive. The following are specific benefits of a health and safety program:
- Prevent workplace injuries and illnesses
- Improve an organization’s compliance with OSHA laws and regulations
- Reduce costs, including Workers’ Compensation premiums
- Engage workers
- Enhance social responsibility goals
- Increase productivity and improve overall business operations
What are Examples of Safe and Sound Week Activities?
When it comes to choosing activities for Safe and Sound Week, there are many ways that employers can encourage workers to participate, including the following:
- Host a virtual lunch and learn program that focuses on an element of the health and safety program.
- Provide training on health and safety programs.
- Create a board that displays worker suggestions on ways to identify and fix workplace hazards.
- Recognize workers for their effective safety contributions.
- Provide opportunities for workers to share what safety in the workplace means to them.
- Encourage workers to sign a banner that commemorates a new safety and health goal.
How can Companies Get Started?
Employers who are interested in taking proactive steps to improve the health and safety of their employees should consider taking the following steps:
- Prioritize safety and health as a core value: Make sure that workers understand that their health and safety is the top priority, and that any workplace hazards that could cause injuries or illnesses will be fixed as soon as possible.
- Lead by example: Practice safe habits and include safety in daily conversations.
- Develop a system for reporting health and safety incidents: Create a system that makes it easy for employees to report work-related illnesses, injuries, or hazards. Assure workers that there will not be negative consequences for reporting hazards. Offer the option to report concerns anonymously.
- Provide training: This will ensure that workers understand how to properly identify and control injuries, illnesses, and near misses in the workplace.
- Conduct regular inspections: Include workers in the inspection process and encourage them to identify areas of concern. Provide checklists to help identify problems.
- Encourage workers to offer hazard control ideas: Give workers time to identify and research possible solutions and follow up on all good ideas.
- Implement hazard controls: Give workers the opportunity to choose, implement, and evaluate their solutions.
- Address emergencies as soon as possible: Come up with a set of instructions for each emergency scenario.
- Seek input from workers about any changes: Discuss all health and safety-related changes with workers before implementing any changes.
- Make improvements to the program: Set aside time to talk about health and safety issues to improve the program.
How can Employers Encourage Workers to Participate in Safe and Sound Week?
In order for a safety campaign or program to be successful, employees and supervisors must participate. Employers should consider encouraging workers to participate in the following Safe and Sound activities:
- Establish a safety policy: It is never too late to create a policy that demonstrates a company’s commitment to safety and health. If the company has a policy in place but it is outdated, management should take the opportunity to review it and make the necessary improvements.
- Host a discussion with workers and management: Invite workers to participate in an open safety discussion with management. Encourage workers to be open and candid about hazards that need to be addressed. If an in-person meeting is not possible, a survey, suggestion box, or hotline might be an option.
- Reward workers who are following safety protocols: Give out free company apparel, gift cards to a local business, or other tokens of appreciation to any employee who is following best practices and making safety a priority.
- Arrange for workers to swap workstations: This is a great opportunity to give workers a fresh set of eyes and discover hazards that an employee who has been doing the job for a longer period may not see. Schedule time for the swappers to share their findings and discuss possible solutions that will improve the safety of the work environment.
- Conduct a mock investigation: Identify a team of supervisors and workers and assign them the task of walking through a mock incident. Provide feedback on how they followed investigative processes and if they identified the cause of the problem.
Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Protect the Rights of Injured Workers
If you suffered a serious workplace injury, do not hesitate to contact the Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. Your employer has a responsibility to provide a safe and healthy work environment. Failing to do so can increase the risk of serious injuries or illnesses. Our dedicated team will walk you through the claims process and address all your questions and concerns. We will protect your legal rights and secure the maximum financial benefits you deserve. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 844-556-4LAW (4529) or contact us online. Located in Baltimore, we serve clients throughout Maryland.