Workplace injuries can be expensive and disruptive. And besides, who wants someone to get hurt? Despite employers’ hopes that employees will use good judgment, it doesn’t always work that way, and employers are burdened with the responsibility of keeping the workplace safe.

If you are in human resources, you need to protect your employees AND your company. You don’t want to see an employee get hurt—or the accident to affect your bottom line.

Here are 4 tips to help you do your important part.

1) Know the risks for your industry.

  • 5% of worker fatalities in 2014 were in the construction industry—that’s 874 deaths out of the 4,251 death overall in workplaces (OSHA). That’s one in five.
  • 75% of workplace injuries occurred in service providing industries, like warehousing, transportation, and courier services. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
  • 25% of workplace injuries occurred in goods-producing industries like construction, contracting, manufacturing, retail, hospitality and even education. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

2) Avoid the Fatal Four.

In 2014, OSHA reported workplace injuries cost businesses over $47 BILLION. The “fatal four” causes are:

  • Falls
  • Electrocution
  • Struck by an object
  • Caught in/between something

Review your workplace safety measures related to these four, and work proactively to eliminate or reduce possible injuries and deaths.

3) Reduce the odds of the most common causes of injury.

The Insurance Journal reported the 10 Leading Causes and Direct Costs of Workplace Injuries in 2012:

  1. Overexertion
  2. Falls on same level
  3. Struck by object or equipment
  4. Falls to lower level
  5. Other exertions or bodily reactions
  6. Roadway incidents involving motorized land vehicle
  7.  Slip or trip without fall
  8. Caught in/compressed by equipment or objects
  9. Repetitive motions involving micro-tasks
  10. Struck against object or equipment

Note: 7 of those 10 are made more likely if employees use drugs or alcohol.

Update your safety guidelines/handbooks and keep this in mind:

In 2014, almost 800 Hispanic or Latino workers were killed from work-related injuries. That’s almost two killed every day of the year.  Were they provided safety guidelines in Spanish, or only English?

4) Know the signs of substance abuse and what to do when you suspect it.

An employee under the influence* of alcohol or drugs—marijuana, amphetamines, cocaine, opiates, heroin, or any prescription drug—is not safe on the job and is likely to be less productive as well.

Take note of employees who are forgetful, indecisive, erratic, careless, aggressive or otherwise acting out of character. Sometimes you will notice differences in his/her appearance (i.e. flushed, bloodshot eyes, sweating, slurred speech, tremors, lack of hygiene, sores or runny nose). Of course this list is not exhaustive.

Make sure all employees are trained in how to recognize, document and deal with a suspicion situation.

A clear, written substance abuse policy provides the backbone for any substance testing. It’s better to have that in place before an event occurs.

What would a single accident caused by an impaired employee cost your business?

Testing can be quickly and easily done in a setting that protects privacy.  Every business needs to operate with peace of mind that everyone working there is safe.

If you need help with any of these things, that’s what we’re here for.

*Your written policy should define what “under the influence” means.