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January 14, 2020

Five New Year’s Resolutions for Better Employee Safety (and how to actually keep them!)

With a New Year and a new decade kicking off, it’s time to reflect on where we’ve been, where we’re headed, and how to improve ourselves in the coming years.

Sound familiar? It’s always the same with New Year’s resolutions. Lose weight. Eat healthier. Work smarter. We have the best of intentions. Still, study after study shows that most of us never keep these resolutions. Many of you have already abandoned on yours.

But when you resolve to improve safety in your business, you can’t afford to give up.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 5,250 workers died on the job in 2018. That’s an average of more than 100 a week, or more than 14 deaths every day. Can you make your business a safer place? Here are five New Year’s resolutions for creating a safer work environment, along with some tips on how to actually keep them.

  1. Conduct an honest assessment. Take a hard, honest look at your operation to identify all safety risks. Check equipment such as fire extinguishers and personal protective gear. Thoroughly review records of safety violations, accidents, injuries, fatalities, and claim trends. Find out exactly where you are and what needs to be improved.
  2. Create a doable to do list. If you try to fix everything at once, you risk getting bogged down in a black hole of to-dos that never get done. Start by creating a short list of practical action items to achieve in the current year such as scheduling regular safety meetings.
  3. Improve communication. Have you created an environment in which every employee feels comfortable voicing concerns to managers about safety issues? If not, make it a goal. Open, robust communication is an essential component for any safety program.
  4. Turn near misses into opportunities. Near miss incidents are indications that something is wrong. Don’t sweep them under the rug. Learn from them so you can fix whatever caused them. If you don’t, the next incident might be a serious accident, injury, or even fatality.
  5. Take advantage of free resources. You don’t have to go it alone when it comes to implementing effective safety measures. There are many helpful resources available such as OSHA’s Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs. Your insurance advisor is also a great resource for risk management advice.

Once you’ve made these resolutions, how do you keep them from going the way of most New Year’s resolutions? Here are a few tips:

  • Get employees involved and motivated. Complacency is one of the prime causes of workplace accidents and injuries. Every employee needs to be aware that safety is everyone’s responsibility and that each one plays a vital role in creating a safe workplace. Involve your workers in the assessment process and in setting safety goals. Keep them motivated by acknowledging and recognizing safety conscious employees who follow the safety rules.
  • Make training regular and engaging. Regular safety training reinforces safe work habits. But instead of merely delivering dry training seminars, try injecting humor or storytelling into your training sessions. Also, offer training through different mediums including laptops and mobile devices to further reinforce safety best practices.
  • Set SMART goals. To improve your safety culture, you need goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely (SMART). That means outlining specific tasks, measuring your progress regularly, keeping goals doable, making them relevant to your safety needs, and establishing a timeframe for achieving them.

A safer workplace is always a worthwhile resolution. An effective safety culture is the best defense against accidents and time lost due to injuries, and it can bolster morale and productivity. For more risk management advice, contact the risk management specialists at Heffernan Insurance Brokers.

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