Sixty-two billion dollars. That’s how much U.S. companies pay each year to cover expenses associated with workplace injuries, according to the Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index. That’s practically pocket change compared to the $250 billion companies lost last year from employees sustaining injuries off the job, according to the National Safety Council.
It’s no secret on-the-job safety is critical. A strong workplace safety program protects a business’s bottom line and its image as a safe-minded, healthy place to work. Occupational safety and health programs reduce expenses related to injuries: medical care, paid time off, litigation, and disaster mitigation.
Manufacturing and construction industries in particular have made huge strides in safety over the last 15 years. These industries have seen a nearly 40 percent decline in recorded cases of occupational injuries and illness since 2004, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. This is largely due to enhanced OSHA regulations, improved on-the-job safety programs, and a growing emphasis on off-the-job safety.
The National Safety Council reports six times as many work days are lost due to injuries that take place off the job as on the job. So it’s no surprise employers are exploring ways to extend safety training beyond the workplace.
The Holy Grail of safety is to change core behaviors so workers are more likely to make good decisions. Off-the-job safety training aims to get employees to adopt on-the-job safety habits in their everyday life.
How are top companies getting workplace safety training—both on and off the job—right? Here are three forward-thinking ways.
Create a culture of caring. When employees know you care about their personal well-being, and you prove that to them in the workplace, it increases morale, engagement, and productivity. Employees need to believe their employers see them as more than just another line worker or laborer. An employee survey is a great way to tap into the current perception of your workplace safety programs. Additionally, peer-to-peer storytelling can help you keep the message of safety relevant and authentic. Encourage employees, leaders, and safety committee members to share personal stories of when they failed to take safety precautions on the job and the consequences.
Reward safety. Promote safety training and certification opportunities as tools employees can leverage in their current job and carry with them to their next work opportunity. Helping employees align safety with their own development goals sends a message that safety is priority and empowers employees to act as safety leaders and prevention champions. Inspire safety-focused accountability and innovation by encouraging workers to look for and report workplace hazards. Incentivize safe practices at work by awarding points that can be cashed in for gift cards or other prizes.
Subtly introduce off-the-job safety. Off-the-job safety training may be met with resistance and is best introduced to employees in small, subtle doses. Start with breakroom posters or company website content that focuses on relevant off-the-job safety behaviors. Consider conveying seasonal messages throughout the year to help acclimate employees to the idea of “thinking safe” both at work and after hours. Examples are sunburn prevention in summer, ladder safety during springtime home improvement season, and winter driving safety. Many companies also allow employees to take personal protective equipment like earplugs and safety glasses home to use.
Safety training is an investment proven to generate returns as much as six dollars for every dollar spent. While the dollar savings are there, the focus of safety should ultimately be about the people. Focusing on the well-being of workers—both on-the-job and off-the-job—is key for creating an effective safety culture.
At Mahaffey, our team members are the safest in the businesses. Our crews are certified and trained to work safely in a variety of industries—from industrial to manufacturing to construction, and more. We are experts in YOUR industry. Contact us today to learn more.