Injury Reduction in the Workplace

Injury Reduction

Workplace injuries are almost unavoidable especially in industries such as construction and manufacturing. Whenever these unfortunate incidents occur, both the worker and company suffer the consequences. For the worker, it means the loss of wages, not to mention his or her health, and for the company, it results in production loss.

The Human Resources and Skills Development Canada or HRSDC estimates that occupational injury costs to the Canadian economy total to more than $19 billion each year, with direct and indirect costs factored in.

While the rate of work-related injury has declined steadily since 1987, it cannot be denied that workplace safety still needs to be improved. Injury prevention and injury reduction must be the main goal without sacrificing productivity.

Employers and employees must work together to succeed in this endeavour. Here are some tips for effective injury reduction in the workplace.

Train employees to identify work hazards. If your workers are constantly exposed to hazardous substances, they should be equipped with proper information on how to deal with them. Make sure machine operators undergo training and appreciate the importance of workplace safety. Be strict about facility rules, such as no smoking policies, and explain the consequences of disobeying them.

Provide proper protective equipment. Knowing the work hazards employees might encounter is only half the battle. Ensure they have the correct PPE or Personal Protective Equipment to protect certain body parts at all times. If you cannot provide each worker with a set of equipment, such as hard hats and safety goggles, assign key locations where they can be stored. Conduct regular maintenance checks to make sure they are not damaged and are still good to use.

Place appropriate warning signs. For compliance and injury prevention, display signs that remind employees to keep safety top of mind. Whether it’s a confined space, a chemical storage area, or a blasting site, everyone should be informed and warned to proceed with caution and proper protection.

Make first aid materials accessible. While injury prevention is what we are aiming for, being ready when disaster strikes is also an essential step. Employees should know what to do when an accident occurs, and basic first aid should be one of them. Place first aid stations in key areas and regularly check that they are well-stocked. Display posters and hazard alerts all over the work place to help remind workers of how to deal with injury and hazards.

Workplace injuries hinder productivity and cause down time. Your facility can reduce and prevent injuries with proper training and the right equipment.

Make Your Facility Handicap-Accessible

Handicap Parking Signs

People with a disability or handicap face a lot of challenges in their everyday life. Barriers from access limit their full participation in society. Business and facility owners should take a proactive step toward accommodation of persons with disabilities.

The rights of disabled and handicap persons are guaranteed by the law. The Canadian Human Rights Act includes physical and mental disability among the prohibited grounds of discrimination. Meanwhile, the Employment Equity Act aims to achieve equality in the workplace regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, or ability.

Cities and provinces around the country have also created their own policies to support these existing laws. Ontario, Mississauga, and Brampton all have their own Accessible Parking rules. The province of New Brunswick developed an Employment Action Plan to increase the employment of persons with disability.

So how can you, as an employer, answer this call? A good start to empowering people with disability is providing them proper access.

Parking Lots, Hallways, and Exits

It is easy to make your facility handicap-accessible. Start with your parking lot by displaying the appropriate handicap signs. Handicap parking signs clearly identify the reserved parking spots for the disabled. These signs should feature the international symbol of access, or the wheelchair symbol.

Check the policy in your city or province to find out the size, material, and reflectivity requirements for these parking signs. You can also opt for bilingual handicap parking signs if your facility is located in French-speaking areas. Ensure that these signs are visible to people in wheelchairs. Make parking spaces more accessible by placing them near building entrances and ramps.

From your parking lot, you can then check if the rest of your facility is handicap-friendly – the hallways, break rooms, cafeterias, and the restrooms. Check their size and watch out for physical barriers that can hamper employees’ access and in turn affect their productivity.

As part of your safety program, you should establish an efficient evacuation plan that includes properly-marked exit routes accessible to both employees on foot and on wheelchairs. Building ramps instead of stairs in exit routes can also be a better alternative as these allow for a swifter exit and minimize possible injuries.

Raising Morale

But more than access to your facility, it is also vital to create a harmonious environment among your employees. Persons of disability should be regarded based on their merits and ability to perform tasks regardless of their handicap. Encouraging an open and inclusive working environment will raise their morale and engage them more toward doing better in their jobs.

Promote Safety for New and Young Workers

Material Data Safety Sheet

Summer is about to start and many students are looking for summer jobs. There are also recent graduates who want to look for part-time employment before pursuing further studies. If your company is looking to hire new and young workers, one of the key things to remember is their occupational safety.

It is important to note that new workers or new employees don’t mean only those that have been recently-hired. New workers also pertain to those transferred to a new department, assigned to operate new equipment, and those who are returning from an extended absence.

Workers’ safety can be overlooked especially if your new workers have previous experience. You must keep in mind that each workplace operates differently. It is imperative that your new employees be educated about your occupational safety policies and standards.

A study by the Institute for Work & Health (IWH) found that there is a persistence of higher injury risk for new workers, especially during their first month on the job. And while the risk is highest among workers over 45 years old, there are still a number of young workers injured on the job. “The key risk factor is newness, not youth,” says IWH Scientist Dr. Curtis Breslin.

Whether you have new workers, temporary workers, or long-time workers, safety is everyone’s concern. There is a need to develop safety management systems and enforce safety policies that will benefit everyone on the job.

Here are some tips to encourage employee safety:

Provide Proper Training. Include safety practices as part of your new employee orientation process. Let them participate in discussions and encourage them to make these safety practices a habit. Answer questions and clarify the hazards in the workplace. If they learn about the importance of workers’ safety early on, they will practice it and in time, become a safety habit. Follow-up training is a good step to introduce new rules and procedures. They should also have free access to training materials and learning kits so they can look at them during their free time.

Monitor their progress. During the first week of new workers, it is recommended to have a supervisor or a senior employee monitor and observe their performance. Aside from having instant feedback, they will feel at ease with their new environment. Superiors can also gauge and determine if the workers are applying the occupational safety practices they have learned.

Encourage a healthy dialogue. New workers must feel comfortable about approaching supervisors regarding procedures they don’t understand. Let them know that they must report unsafe conditions or hazards in the workplace. They should not be reprimanded if they refuse to work in an unsafe area. If they know everyone prioritizes safety, they will not hesitate to make this commitment as well.

Prevention is key. A lot of injuries and accidents in the workplace can be avoided if workers are aware of the hazards and consequences of not protecting themselves. Provide new workers with protective equipment like hard hats, gloves, boots, and the like. Determine which areas they are assigned to, and equip them with the right devices to use. Health safety should also be practiced at work. Accidents are more likely to happen when workers are not in their best capacity to perform.

Keep these things in mind when welcoming new workers to your facility. Remember that workers’ safety is not just about preventing accidents and injuries. It also increases productivity and fosters a harmonious environment for your employees.

Get Your Parking Lot Ready for Spring

parking lot signs

Making a lasting first impression for your business is important especially in this age where image is truly bankable. In this vein, companies invest on good architecture, require well-dressed employees and showcase pleasant faces to greet customers and visitors upon entry and exit. But for owners who really want to impact their business, the show has to start in the parking lot.

This spring, make sure your facility’s parking area is in tip-top shape. Usher in the new season with proper parking lot maintenance and repair that will keep your employees and customers safe.

As the snow melts and concrete pavements become fully visible again, this is the perfect opportunity to check for cracks, potholes, and other damage caused by the inches of snow. Here are the things to look out for during your parking lot maintenance:

1. Cracks and holes. It is best to look for these damages as early as possible so they can be repaired and handled accordingly without causing inconvenience to vehicles and pedestrians. According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), parking areas must be level and cracks, holes, and lumps must not exceed one centimetre. Also, check for vegetation that may be growing in between the cracks. Aside from being unpleasant to the eyes, the vegetation may disguise the cracks and uneven concrete underneath.

2. Melting snow and ice. Be careful of thawing ice and snow in your parking lot. This may cause spill and fall hazards that lead to accidents, violations and possible lawsuits. This month, The Prince Albert Daily Herald reported on multiple slip and fall incidents that required paramedic response.

It is ideal to use ice melters to speed up the process. Ice melters work faster than rock salt in melting ice and snow. Choose one that won’t discolour concrete or asphalt, and won’t harm the grass in your parking area.

3. Leaks and spills of antifreeze. Because antifreeze is used in vehicle engines during winter, leaks and spills may occur while the vehicles are parked in your lot. Check the parking slots for these slip and fall hazards. During your facility maintenance, you can use traffic cones to block the damaged slot and prevent access until the spill is cleaned.

Pavement Marking Tape

4. Faded paint and pavement markings. Check the state of pavement markings for parking slots, crosswalks, fire lanes and loading zones. They should be clearly visible and repainted immediately once the colours fade. Use stencils, marking tape, and stripers to make the task of parking lot paving much easier. Remember to use high-quality paint meant for everyday abuse and won’t easily fade.

5. Busted lighting, damaged parking lot signs and bollards. The extreme weather condition we just experienced may have damaged lamp posts and signs in your parking lot. The long exposure to snow may have affected your signs’ reflectivity. Check the condition of your bollards and bumper guards. Make sure to replace broken light bulbs and damaged parking lot signs. Choose signs made with heavy-duty material and optimum reflectivity. This will save you from further facility maintenance costs while ensuring safety in the area. Meanwhile, using bollard sleeves is an economical way to cover up and prevent future damage and replacement.

By keeping a well-maintained parking lot, it shows how professional you are in conducting your business and in creating a lasting partnership with your employees and customers. It’s a way of giving back for their continued loyalty and patronage of your business.