Workplace safety is especially important in the skilled trades where workers utilize specialized tools and machinery, climb ladders or lift heavy materials. Providing a safe workplace helps protect your workers from injuries and illness, reduce absenteeism, and decrease turnover. Yet, in the U.S., private industry employers reported 2.2 million workplace injuries in 2021, up 2.1 million cases from the previous year, according to the most recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report.
Without putting proper workplace safety measures in place, you put your employees, customers, and brand at risk. Fortunately, with the right safety precautions and safety training, every workplace can be safe.
Investing in workplace safety is smart business. Not only does it help protect employees from injuries, but it’s the right thing to do for your business. Here’s why:
#1. Decreased Costs: The costs of workplace injuries and illnesses include direct and indirect costs, including workers’ compensation payments, medical expenses and legal services, as well as training replacement employees, lost productivity, lower employee morale and absenteeism.
When employees know how to use tools and equipment, including personal protective equipment properly, the risk of an incident drops. Most safety programs focus heavily on safety training, which can bring significant cost reductions.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration estimates that for every $1 invested in safety programs, companies experience $4 to $6 in savings. Plus, workplaces that establish an effective safety and health management system can reduce workplace injury and illness costs by 20 to 40 percent.
Safe workplaces have lower premiums for Worker’s Compensation insurance, which covers medical expenses and lost wages for employees who are injured on the job. Too many workers compensation claims can flag workplace safety issues to your state board and raise insurance rates.
#2. Improved Employee Productivity: Safety can sometimes be perceived as an impediment to operations, but research shows that a safer workplace results in a more productive workforce. Having regular safety training sessions with your technicians can help keep safety incidents down and make workdays more productive. Online training with short, on-demand videos can make it easy to fit workplace safety training into even the busiest schedules.
Injuries take employees out of the workplace, creating lost working hours and putting an added burden on the remaining employees. One Harvard study estimated that absenteeism alone takes $150 billion annually from the U.S. economy’s productivity.
#3. Better Recruitment and Retention: Many skilled trades are physically demanding, so keeping employees happy is critical to recruiting and retaining a talented workforce. Safe and healthy workplaces typically have higher employee morale, which increases retention. When recruiting talent, new hires want to know their employer will keep them safe. A survey of small business employees conducted by an insurance company found that workplace safety was among the top criteria employees consider when evaluating a new job offer.
When staff feel that their employer has done everything possible to ensure their safety in the workplace, they can feel much more positive about the company and the management team. Ultimately, this can lead to a much stronger employer-employee relationship, which also boosts productivity.
#4. Enhanced Protection from Liability Lawsuits: No business wants to make headlines because of an accident at its workplace. Proper safety procedures can minimize the risk of an accident or injury that will draw negative attention or even a lawsuit. Companies without effective workplace safety measures put themselves at risk for litigation from employees harmed on the job. An effective safety training program can not only reduce the risk of an injury occurring but also, if a lawsuit occurs, show a judge or jury the company did all it could to improve safety.
#5. Compliance with Regulatory Requirements: Employers must comply with all applicable standards from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, including the General Duty Clause of the OSH Act, which requires employers to keep their workplace free of serious recognized hazards. Employees who are trained on safety best practices and understand the appropriate precautions are less likely to be injured.
Federal law entitles employees to a safe workplace, and OSHA has been stepping up its prosecution of safety standard violations. OSHA standards apply to all businesses regardless of their size or sector. Failure to comply can lead to serious penalties, but safety training can help ensure regulatory compliance. A survey by Safety+Health Magazine found that 61% of respondents said they conduct worker safety training to be in compliance, and 49% said they do it to go beyond compliance.
Industry-Specific Safety Plans
Each industry has its own best practices, but proper equipment use and training are essential to keep everyone safe and healthy. Every safety program should be tailored to fit the company, its operations and culture. Additionally, different types of businesses face different risks, and those creating safety plans should evaluate OSHA requirements by industry.
Certain industries experience higher levels of injuries than others, and workers in all trades, particularly skilled trades, face potential safety hazards. NCS data found industries related to transportation, construction and manufacturing are among those industries with the most incidents.
OSHA’s most frequently cited OSHA standards violated in FY 2021 include:
- Fall protection, construction
- Respiratory protection, general industry
- Ladders, construction
- Hazard communication, general industry
- Scaffolding, construction
- Fall protection training, construction
- Control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout), general industry
- Eye and face protection, construction
- Powered industrial trucks, general industry
- Machinery and machine guarding, general industry
According to OSHA, there are five elements that every effective program should have: management leadership and employee participation, workplace analysis, hazard prevention and control, safety and health training and education, and program evaluation.
Online Workplace Safety Training
Safety training is essential to a safe workplace, but developing and maintaining an effective training program that matches employees’ schedules can be challenging. Online safety training can give employees the knowledge they need to perform work safely and help prevent incidents and injuries while allowing them to train anytime, anywhere.
Online learning provides flexibility, so there’s no need to take people off the job and get them in the same room for safety training. They can easily train in their downtime using a phone, tablet, or computer. With Interplay Learning, you can assign safety courses, assess worker skills, track progress, and monitor compliance while allowing employees the flexibility to complete their safety training at their convenience on any device.
Interplay Learning provides affordable and engaging training for your safety and technical maintenance training needs. With our online training, you can arm your workforce with the necessary skills to perform work both safely and effectively to keep their co-workers, your customers, and your business safe.
Start Building or Enhancing Your Safety Program Today