What can you do to protect your organization from workplace falls?
People have been falling off ladders since the dawn of time. In fact, OSHA was initially founded to address workplace falls. So, it’s no surprise that fall protection still dominates OSHA’s top-10 citation list for 2020. Scaffolding and ladders are right behind at No. 4 and No. 5. It seems like once people get their feet off the ground, they have trouble staying there!
So how can you learn from this and improve your organization’s record? If you want to hedge your bets, we’d suggest focusing on falls.
Have a strong safety program
We preach this all the time. Having a strong safety culture is the most cost-effective way to keep people safe, manage your claims and reduce your overall financial exposure. The key is doing the basic stuff right every time:
- Safety must be supported from the top down. Your leaders need to be talking about it all the time.
- You need a safety director – even if that person has another role. Having a central resource is important.
- Repeat, repeat, repeat. You can’t deliver the safety message too often. Your employees should be hearing about it daily.
- Document your safety program. Having a written record of your policies, practices and training can go a long way toward enforcing them. They also may help you defend a claim.
- Ensure you’re training new employees thoroughly. But don’t forget the long-timers. They need refresher training, too.
Monitor and adjust
Part of your safety leader’s job should include analyzing and investigating incidents even when they don’t end up becoming a claim. For example, if you’re seeing a lot of injuries to a certain body part – say leg fractures – you can look into the causes. Do you need to address ladder safety or adjust the way your employees do a particular function?
We recently worked with a food manufacturer experiencing a high number of workplace falls in the form of slips, trips and falls. They looked at which shifts and supervisors correlated with the highest number of incidents. Turns out a specific supervisor was pushing his team too hard. They also had a good number of new hires whose capacity was strained, leaving them vulnerable to mistakes and near-misses.
That leads us to accountability. Part of your strategy should involve the shift or project manager. Consider the role they play in training or setting standards that may be compromising safety. Are they investigating incidents and coaching or retraining their team based on what they learned?
Don’t forget to look at public hazards, too. Are customers or passersby at risk? What can you do to minimize it?
No need to reinvent the wheel
You have plenty of resources available.
- Clients of The Miller Group have free access to Mineral, a safety software that includes new-hire orientation, safety training modules and other HR topics.
- Ask your broker or carrier to do a safety walk through. We’re on your side when it comes to reducing risk!
- After you’ve exhausted the resources of your carrier and broker, you may consider inviting the federal or state OSHA organizations in for a voluntary analysis. But keep in mind you will then be required to fix everything they find to be out of regulation.
Innovation can help
We’re seeing a lot of innovation in using technology for better data analysis and trending that can help you pinpoint the root causes of safety problems. More convenient reporting tools are available, too. Clients of The Miller Group can receive easy-to-understand, bite-sized reports that use their insurance claims to reveal injury trends.
There are even some new ladders on the market that keep users from using the very top step and provide auditory clues at the bottom to make sure they don’t miss that last step.
When it comes to workplace falls and safety, you either invest on the front end or you pay on the back end in the form of claims and worker’s compensation premiums – not to mention lower morale, slower operations and missed project opportunities.