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Best Practices for Workplace Safety

What is Workplace Safety and Why is it Important?

Workplace safety is defined as “The process of protecting employees from work-related illness and injury” (OSHA). Through a comprehensive set of guidelines and programs, companies have an obligation to their workforce to provide a safe environment, along with education and tools to aid in the prevention of any work-related incidents from occurring. However, even with all the precautions set in place, every work environment has its hazards that employees must be aware of prior to starting their work shifts. Accidents, as defined as, “An unexpected, unplanned, uncontrollable, & undesirable event” do occur, so a detailed plan of action must be included in any company’s workplace safety procedures. This is important in order to set expectations for employees for everything from what to do if they get injured to reporting an injury, all the way through return-to-work guidelines and clearance to full duty.

What are some Fast Facts on Work-Related Injuries? (CDC, The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health)

  • The three most common work-related injuries are due to contact with objects and equipment, overexertion, and bodily reactions, along with falls, slips, and trips without a fall
  • Per the latest research, an estimated 2.4 million workers sustained work-related injuries that required treatment in 2019
  • The most common age group to sustain work-related injuries are those under the age of 25

At OAH, our medical providers and physical/occupational therapists are trained to provide exceptional quality treatment for most work-related injuries including but not limited to basic sprains/strains all the way to incidents that may require surgical involvement and post-operative care.

“Utilizing our research-based model, our therapists will examine each patient and communicate with our on-site medical team in order to develop a customized treatment program that focuses on pain modulation, symptom management/reduction, and restoration of function with a focus on safe return to work activities, ” said Julia Vlassov, DPT, Site Supervisor.

What are Best Practices for Employee Safety?

Knowledge about how to maintain a safe work environment is the responsibility of every employee. Below you will find several recommendations to assist managers and leaders in developing training materials for their staff members to limit the risk of workplace injuries. (OSHA) This list is limited and does not encompass all potential scenarios that may be present in a particular work environment. It is encouraged for every company to have regular meetings with their leaders and staff in order to determine best practices for employee safety in their respective environments.

  • Proper use of tools, equipment, and machinery – Equipment should only be used by staff that has been appropriately trained and has demonstrated competency. All tools, equipment, and machinery should be inspected and maintained on a regular basis as well as taken out of use if any concerns are noted.
  • Unsafe work conditions should be reported immediately – If any worker notices an area of the workplace that may be hazardous for them or others, this should be reported immediately. After manager examination, the equipment and/or area should be blocked off until repairs are made and cleared for safe use.
  • Wearing appropriate attire for specific job sites – Adhering to proper dress codes may be important at work sites that have potentially hazardous equipment and may require additional barriers to prevent serious injury.
  • Decluttering the workspace – The more items there are in a workspace, the more risk of a tripping hazard causing a work-related injury. Ensuring proper/adequate walking room as well as maneuverability for employees to complete their workflows can help prevent potentially dangerous situations.
  • Staying hydrated – Particularly in outdoor environments, ensuring appropriate hydration can prevent heat and cold-related injuries that can lead to feelings of lightheadedness and lack of focus.
  • Appropriate ergonomic design of workstation – Whether it be a desk or a production line, ensuring that employees are working in the most ergonomically sound position can prevent potential overuse injuries over time.
  • Taking breaks as needed – Allowing appropriate breaks from the work area will allow employees to be more focused on the task at hand as well as less likely to make errors that could potentially lead to injury.
  • Always being aware of surroundings – Creating a culture of awareness will ensure that employees are looking around them while in their workflows and taking note of any abnormalities or differences. This will also aid in potential tripping hazards, usage of hazardous materials, and/or preventable accidents.

While every employee should understand and follow workplace safety guidelines, it is important that the employers give them the information they need, and continuously update the guidelines to keep the work environment safe.

As mentioned prior, this is not an exhaustive list of workplace safety measures. Each company/department should take the time to observe its own respective work environments to develop safety protocols and procedures to aid in the continued goal of employee safety. Safety is accomplished if everyone is involved and engaged, so regular meetings and reminders are important in order to limit the number of workplace injuries. However, if an injury does occur at the workplace, the team at OAH is prepared to treat employees with the utmost respect and care to get them back to work quickly and safely.