When leadership isn’t fully committed to a workplace safety culture that protects the health and wellbeing of employees, workers face greater risks for serious accidents. Although workplace fatalities have dropped by 65 percent since OSHA was founded in 1971, there were still 4,821 workers killed due to workplace accidents in 2014.
Preventing Workplace Fatalities
According to the National Safety Council, establishing a workplace safety culture is essential to prevent workplace injuries and fatalities. Companies that put workplace safety at the core of the organization can reduce on-the-job accidents and injuries and save workers’ lives. Business owners, managers, and supervisors must create a consistently safe work environment for all workers, especially in workplaces with high-risk jobs. Senior leaders must put workplace safety at the top of the list, even if safety decisions have negative short-term effects on the bottom line.
Establishing a workplace safety culture with proper training, safe equipment, hazard-free work conditions, and a clean work environment creates benefits for workers. Workplace safety raises employee morale, creates a more productive environment, and reduces accidents and injuries. Companies without diligent safety standards and regulations in place typically have higher injury and/or fatality rates. Workers are put at greater risks for accidents which leads to a higher rate of workers’ compensation claims. High injury rates cause workers to take more chances because there’s an accepted work culture of “accidents and injuries will happen.” In some cases, too many visible injuries lead to questionable claims, including fraudulent and exaggerated ones.
Creating a strong workplace safety culture that protects workers includes six important factors:
- Accountability – Management must establish a workplace safety plan and hold workers accountable to follow safety rules and regulations.
- Engagement – The workforce must be engaged in the company’s safety program. Injury and fatality risks decrease when employees get involved and participate in promoting safety.
- Recognition – Recognition for reaching safety goals should be given to individual workers, teams, and departments. The achievement of goals serves to motivate future goals.
- Motivation – Giving workers rewards like cash bonuses or gift cards, even for small amounts, for reaching safety goals can create incentives and promote positive attitudes.
- Appreciation – Many workers leave one job for another because they feel unappreciated for their work. Management should congratulate and thank workers for following safety rules.
- Credibility – Management must take responsibility for inadequate workplace safety. Blaming workers for injuries and ignoring hazardous conditions diminishes a company’s credibility.