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January 18, 2017

The New Year: A Perfect Time to Renew Your Safety Commitment

There’s something refreshing about the New Year. It’s a favorite time to reflect on where we’ve been and where we’re headed, a time for renewing old commitments and making new ones. The start of a new year is also the perfect time for business owners to review safety initiatives and chart a course for improvement.

According to a study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), occupational injuries and illnesses cost U.S. businesses an estimated $250 billion every year. OSHA estimates U.S. employers pay almost $1 billion every week in direct workers’ compensation costs, and indirect costs can take an even bigger bite.

Those are sobering statistics, and a robust safety culture is your best defense against these costs. But fostering a culture of safety in your organization isn’t just a matter of making a few rules, putting up posters, and having an occasional meeting. It requires getting everyone onboard and actively participating.

Ready to make a New Year’s re-commitment to developing a more effective safety culture in your organization? Get started on the right foot by making sure your safety program has these five critical components:

1.Commitment at the top. When employees see real commitment to safety from management, they’ll be more likely to take it seriously. You and your management team must be committed to (a) treating safety as an investment, not just an expense; (b) investing in the tools to create a safe workplace; and (c) seeing safety as a continuous improvement process.

2.A collective sense of ownership. Don’t make safety merely something you require your workers to comply with. Encourage them to own the safety culture and be proactive about working safer. Get them involved in the safety decision-making process and foster an environment of cooperation, teamwork, and pride in a safe workplace.

3.Education and training. You want safety to be top of mind in your organization, so keep your employees engaged with ongoing education and training. Have a formal, written program with concrete guidelines about safe housekeeping and safe work habits, proper handling of tools and equipment, proper use of personal protective gear, and emergency preparedness and response. Hold regular safety meetings to keep them thinking about it.

4.Action. A written safety program is useless if it’s not put into action. Get everyone involved in identifying and eliminating safety hazards, have a dedicated safety committee, conduct regular inspections, and stay on top of reporting and investigating all incidents.

5.Accountability. Have a strict policy of holding everyone who doesn’t follow safety rules accountable, but also create a non-threatening environment for employees to report safety issues.

The New Year is the perfect time to review your safety initiatives and every other aspect of your risk management strategy. That includes your business insurance coverage. To make sure you have the financial protection to start your year on solid ground, call the business insurance professionals at Heffernan Insurance Brokers today. 

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