It was the Bostonian writer, inventor and politician Benjamin Franklin who said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
This concept is especially true in the workplace. Smart Business, an online business publication, released an interview with the president of Clark-Theders Insurance company, Jonathan Theders, expressing how much employers believe workplace safety will lead to increased productivity.
Employers, like Theders, who hold this philosophy to be true, also find themselves evaluating and re-evaluating the level of safety in the workplace. According to Theders, the only way employees have a safe and productive environment in a workplace is if their perception of the level of safety matches the reality of safety in the workplace; when employees are safe and feel safe, in their work environment, their level of productivity will increase.
Jonathan Theders is not alone in his philosophy. CEOs from large companies, such as Alcoa’s Paul O’Neill, held the safety of their employees to be of the highest priority.
Leaders like O’Neill and Theders saw when employees were safer, they were less prone to injuries. When they were less prone to injuries, they could feel good about their jobs, they understood their employer cared about them and their safety. Because they felt cared for, their performance level at work could then increase.
While all company managers, no matter their company size, should always adhere to Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations, here are a few more ways employers, managers and company directors can ensure safety at the workplace and protection of their employees.
Keep Equipment Safe and Up to Code
Citing the Jones Act, intended to ensure maritime employees are provided with seaworthy vessels to perform their duties, the operator of a tugboat in Tennessee became the center of a Sevenson Environmental lawsuit in 2010, because of dangers present on the tug boat he was operating during a Sevenson remediation project, which led to his permanent and disabling injuries. It is up to a company and the managers on duty to ensure all of the equipment used by employees and contractors is up to code and safe.
Teach Employees the Value of Working Safely
- If employees practice safety in their daily physical activity, they can avoid sustaining a debilitating injury while on the job. It is part of a manager’s responsibility to teach employees how to practice safety in handling heavy objects and machinery while at a worksite, to limit downtime, injury and to increase a team’s productivity. Cliff Holste, Supply Chain Digest’s material handling editor, offers several tips on how you can limit injuries, including avoiding:
- Awkward postures – bending at the waist, twisting incorrectly.
- Repetitive motions – frequent reaching, lifting objects incorrectly, carrying objects that are too heavy.
- Forceful exertions – carrying or lifting heavy loads incorrectly.
- Pressure points – grasping (or contact from) loads, leaning against parts or surfaces that are hard or have sharp edges.
- Static postures – maintaining fixed positions for a long period of time.
Holste says the best way to avoid a serious injury on a job is to make sure you are well-rested, hydrated, physically fit and you haven’t been doing one task for too long.
Switching physical tasks can prevent someone from being over worked and keep a steady rotation of tasks in a flow. If employees are able to shift their responsibilities (to a degree) throughout the week, they will never become bored, overwrought and exhausted by certain activities involved and this will allow employees to better understand the several roles involved in a process, while making sure the perception of an employee’s safety matches his reality.