12 Tips to Promote Workplace Safety and Prevent Employee Injuries

By: | May 30, 2023

Matt Zender is senior vice president and Workers’ Compensation Product Manager for AmTrust Financial Services, one of the top workers’ compensation carriers in the U.S. At AmTrust, he manages the WC Product line and strategy. He has been in the industry for over 25 years and is active in a number of committee and board positions of thought leaders and bureaus throughout the country, including CWCI, NCCI and NYCIRB.

Workplaces have gotten safer for employees over the years. However, accidents can still happen.

When they do, they cost businesses thousands of dollars in medical expenses, undermine productivity and employee morale, and increase employee absenteeism.

To help prevent the risks of workplace injuries, businesses can follow these 12 tips:

1) Create a Comprehensive Workplace Safety Program

Develop a workplace safety program that includes policies and procedures for identifying, reporting and addressing hazards in the workplace.

Effective employee safety training programs are necessary to eliminate human suffering due to injuries incurred on the job, and they help reduce the direct and indirect costs of accidents. They also provide a means for businesses to comply with state and federal regulatory requirements, reducing the concern over exposure to fines and legal sanctions.

Increasing loss control efforts by effectively managing an organization’s risks helps create a safe work environment. By reducing workplace accidents and employee injuries, businesses see a reduction in their workers’ compensation claims and premiums.

The workplace safety program should be evaluated periodically to ensure its effectiveness, and it can and should be modified as needed.

2) Understand the Course and Scope Rule for Workers’ Compensation Coverage

Workers’ compensation insurance covers most incidents that occur in the course and scope of employment or with expressed permission from the employer outside of the workplace.

The course and scope rule states that if an employee deviates from performing their job duties, does something for personal benefit and is not furthering the business of the employer, then any injury that occurs during the time of the deviation is not within the course of employment and may not be covered.

3) Utilize Emerging Technologies to Help Create Safer Workspaces

Insurers can make better use of technology to help improve their workers’ comp offerings.

Carriers may provide technical guidance and general safety and training resources through handouts and safety videos specific to common job functions and workplace situations.

Major advancements in workers’ compensation technology, such as videoconferencing for risk management, virtual claims assessments, telehealth services and wearable devices, can help create safer work environments.

4) Conduct Regular Safety Inspections to Identify Potential Hazards

A critical step in an effective workplace safety program is creating a process to identify and assess current hazards on the premises or worksite.

Safety inspections should be conducted regularly and updated as needed. Once the potential hazards are recognized, companies can create safe working policies to ensure controls are implemented to minimize or eliminate injuries, illnesses or accidents.

Loss control experts can help provide regular ergonomic assessments to employees to identify and address potential hazards.

5) Investigate and Address Workplace Injuries Immediately

When a workplace injury occurs, employee injury response procedures must be followed by both the employer and the injured employee to comply with workers’ compensation laws. These requirements could vary from state to state, but most general responsibilities for both parties apply across the country.

Workplace injuries should be investigated immediately to prevent further harm to employees.

At the worksite, management should have a communication plan in place that details how to let their employees know that there is an employee injury and what the next steps will be.

For example, employers should tell their staff that their colleague is going to be out of work — without sharing any medical details — and how they plan to spread the injured employee’s work around the team.

This demonstrates compassion for both the injured worker and those left behind, who might be feeling that they could also go through the same situation.

6) Know What Types of Employee Injuries Workers’ Compensation Insurance Does NOT Cover

Workers’ compensation insurance covers most incidents that occur in the course and scope of employment or with expressed permission from the employer outside of the workplace.

Workplace incidents involving employee injuries must be determined on a case-by-case basis.

However, in some situations, injured employee claims would not be covered, including driving to/from work, horseplay in the workplace, illegal activities, policy violations and intentional acts. Also, terminated or laid off employees will no longer be covered under workers’ comp insurance, unless the injury predated the termination.

7) Encourage Employees to Report Unsafe and Hazardous Conditions in the Workplace

A critical step in an effective workplace safety program is creating a process to identify and assess current hazards on the premises or job site.

Rigorous self-inspection combined with a visit or informational resources from the company’s insurer, local safety council, OSHA, etc., can help identify hazards.

Effective controls protect workers from workplace hazards and help minimize or eliminate injuries, illnesses and accidents. Once safe working policies are established, make sure these are enforced at all levels.

Workers should know the importance of addressing reported hazards in the workplace and should be encouraged to recognize and report hazards or near-miss accidents immediately.

8) Provide Safety Training Programs to Employees

Everyone in the company, from management to interns, must be trained to implement a workplace safety program.

The safety program should also be included in new hire training or when employees’ tasks and potential work hazards change.

Employers that enforce safety procedures and regulations provide safety training, education and occupational health programs to create a workplace environment where employees feel safe every day when they arrive for work.

Workplace safety procedures and processes should be regularly reviewed and updated as needed.

9) Create an Emergency Action Plan in Case of a Workplace Accident or Injury

Having an employee injury response procedure in place will help ensure the injured worker gets prompt care and will assist in making the workers’ compensation claim process go smoothly.

Employees should be trained to stay calm, assess the situation, contact the individual in charge, and do their best to help the injured or ill person.

10) Establish a Return-to-Work Program

In return-to-work programs, employees who receive approval from a physician to return to the workplace are given light-duty or transitional work by their current employer until the physician fully releases them to return to their regular job duties.

The key to proactively managing workers’ compensation claims costs is developing a return-to-work program before injuries occur.

Also, periodically evaluate the return-to-work program from the workers’ and managements’ points-of-view.

11) Work with Medical Providers to Ensure Employees Receive Proper Care for Workplace Injuries

Employees should receive medical treatment for injuries promptly and report injuries to claims administrators immediately.

Consider partnering with a designated medical provider that can provide immediate treatment for employee injuries.

Businesses should develop job descriptions, including physical requirements (lifting, pushing, twisting, other types of exertion, repetitive actions, etc.), for existing and transitional jobs within the organization and share them with your designated medical provider.

12) Think Like an Underwriter

Insurance carriers have underwriters on staff whose job is to evaluate whether they want to insure a particular risk. When your agent is submitting the opportunity for them to consider, they will highlight the things that the business is doing to make it safer, in order to make the business look like a good risk.

It is good to think like an underwriter when evaluating your own operation, as it can help spotlight areas that you might need to tighten up. Think about how you want your operation to be seen by an outside party, and push to realize that vision.

Running a successful business often relies on controlling costs; workers’ compensation insurance costs are definitely among them. Always work with an insurance carrier that listens to your needs and can customize its services to help strengthen your financial position and operations. &