There are many benefits to making safety a top priority. Workplace injuries and illnesses are reduced or prevented. Employees feel safe and leave in the same or better condition than when they arrived. Businesses are in compliance with laws and regulations. A decrease in injuries, illnesses and accidents can reduce the cost of workers’ compensation premiums.
Putting policies and practices in place can help reduce accidents and ensure employees are prepared to handle an emergency situation if one does arise. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) suggests 10 ways to create a safety program and keep safety at the forefront of your business.
Set safety and health as a top priority. Stress the importance of safety to your employees. Assure them that you will work with them to find and fix any hazards that could cause injury or illness.
Lead by example. Practice safe behaviors and make safety part of your daily conversations with employees.
Implement a reporting system. Develop and communicate a simple procedure for workers to report any injuries, illnesses, incidents (including near misses/close calls), hazards, or safety and health concerns without fear of retaliation. Include an option for reporting hazards or concerns anonymously. If an incident does occur, OSHA has injury and illness recordkeeping and reporting requirements that must be followed. Learn more in the article below.
Provide training. Train employees on how to identify and control hazards. OSHA offers a hazard identification training tool at osha.gov/hazfinder.
Conduct inspections. Inspect the workplace with employees and ask them to identify any activity, piece of equipment or material that concerns them.
Collect hazard control ideas. Ask employees for ideas and follow up on their suggestions for improvements. Provide them time during work hours, if necessary, to research solutions.
Implement hazard controls. Assign employees the task of choosing, implementing and evaluating the solutions they come up with.
Address emergencies. Identify foreseeable emergency scenarios and develop instructions on what to do in each case. Have meetings to discuss these procedures and post them in a visible location in the workplace. Click here to find a checklist designed to help small businesses assess their readiness to handle a medical or first-aid incident.
Seek input on workplace changes. Before making significant changes to the workplace, ask employees to identify potential safety or health issues.
Make improvements. Set aside a regular time to discuss safety and health issues to identify ways to improve the program.
Many of the steps involve consulting with employees. No one knows the risks employees face better than themselves. Asking for their insight could lead to increased buy-in and productivity as well as enhance overall business operations.
While accident prevention is important, it is also imperative that employees know how to respond properly if an accident does occur.
Employers are required by OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.151 to have a person or persons adequately trained to render first aid for worksites that are not in near proximity to an infirmary, clinic or hospital. The standard also requires first-aid supplies be readily available.
OSHA advises that a specific person be responsible for choosing the types and amounts of first-aid supplies and for maintaining these supplies. The supplies must be adequate, should reflect the kinds of injuries that occur, and must be stored in an area where they are readily available for emergency access.
It also is important to ensure the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) is available to ensure the person administering first aid to the victim is protected from injury and illness. Depending on the situation, necessary PPE may include latex-free gloves, CPR masks, medical-grade face masks, eye protection and more.
Employers who have unique or changing first-aid needs should consider upgrading their first-aid kits. The employer can use the OSHA 300 log, OSHA 301 reports or other records to identify the first-aid supply needed for their business.
OSHA recommends that cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training be an element of a company’s first-aid program but it is not required for all. However, some OSHA standards, for example, logging operations (29 CFR 1910.266), permit-required confined spaces (29 CFR 1910.146), and electric power generation, transmission and distribution (29 CFR 1910.269) have specific requirements that employees be trained in first aid and CPR. If an employer is covered by one of these specific standards, CPR training would be required.
OSHA standards also do not specifically address automated external defibrillators (AEDs) but they should be considered when selecting first-aid supplies and equipment, according to OSHA.
There are many things to consider when working to prevent accidents and responding when one happens in the workplace. Having proper first-aid kits, potentially life-saving equipment and employees trained to use it is important.
There are several nationally recognized organizations that offer first-aid training — the American Heart Association, American Red Cross, National Safety Council and others. American Rental Association (ARA) members also have access to numerous safety training resources on RentalU, ARA’s online learning platform. This content includes monthly safety videos, safety and risk management courses, and PDFs covering specific safety topics. To help with training, ARA members may assign this content to their employees. Learn more and access RentalU at ARArental.org/rentalu.
Recordkeeping and reporting requirements
If an injury or illness occurs in your business, there is certain recordkeeping that is required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Many employers with more than 10 employees are required to keep a record of serious work-related injuries and illnesses but certain low-risk industries are exempted. Minor injuries requiring first aid only do not need to be recorded.
OSHA defines a recordable injury or illness as:
- any work-related fatality.
- any work-related injury or illness that results in loss of consciousness, days away from work, restricted work or transfer to another job.
- any work-related injury or illness requiring medical treatment beyond first aid.
- any work-related diagnosed case of cancer, chronic irreversible diseases, fractured or cracked bones or teeth, and punctured eardrums.
There also are special recording criteria for work-related cases involving needlesticks and sharps injuries, medical removal, hearing loss and tuberculosis.
All employers under OSHA jurisdiction must report any worker fatality within eight hours and any amputation, loss of an eye or hospitalization of a worker within 24 hours. Details on who is required to make a report and how to do so can be found at osha.gov/report.
Full details on OSHA requirements regarding injury and illness recordkeeping and reporting can be found at osha.gov/recordkeeping.