Employers are legally responsible for providing a “reasonably safe” workplace. However, when it comes to employee safety, health, and wellness, maintaining a business that thrives requires far more than merely meeting legal obligations.
Aside from impacting employee morale and loyalty, providing health and wellness resources can improve productivity. For one, taking extra safety precautions can prevent workplace injuries including a traumatic brain injury that will slow or halt production.
One of the most important elements of sustaining a safe and healthy workplace is getting employees involved. To create a culture that promotes health and wellness, educate your employees on When and How to Use Hand Wash and Hand Sanitiser to prevent them from getting illnesses. But before anything else, employers need to provide proper insurance to cover the business and support employees should an accident occur, or an illness develop.
Workers’ Compensation Procedures and Benefits
Aside from Texas, all states require most types of businesses to have workers’ compensation insurance coverage—and it’s the employer’s responsibility to purchase and renew their policy.
Even if your business is exempt from mandatory coverage, having a policy will likely save you money in the long run, as paying out of pocket for injuries and illnesses can be costly.
To provide the highest quality coverage, employers should put in the time and research to find an insurance provider that meets their unique workers’ compensation needs. Furthermore, they need to shop around to get the best rate. The best way to do so is to explore your options and request quotes created specifically for your business. For example, you can request a workers compensation insurance quote online from The Hartford to get started.
For employers, selecting and purchasing a policy isn’t where the responsibilities associated with workers’ comp insurance ends. You also have to inform your employees of their benefits and provide the necessary instructions and paperwork for filing a workers’ comp claim.
OSHA Adherence and Resources
Having workers’ compensation is a must to protect your employees, but you should look at it as just a backup plan for worst-case scenarios. To prevent workplace injuries in the first place, make workplace safety a priority.
Prevention begins with education. Don’t assume that hazards are obvious to everyone or that all workers already know how to perform tasks safely. They need regular training and education programs to minimize risks and dangers. An ideal safety program gives employees:
- The tools and training to do their jobs as safely as possible and to avoid unnecessary hazards
- An understanding of what the unavoidable hazards are, how to identify them, and how to report them
- Specialized skills unique to their jobs and your industry
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides information about training workers in safety and accident prevention. You can use the organization’s website as an educational resource for both yourself and your employees.
Identifying Risks Associated with Your Industry
General safety rules and training are essential, but be sure to address the hazards and risks specific to your industry and each individual’s job. Some jobs are more dangerous than others, but all come with unique risks that need acknowledgment.
For instance, in manufacturing or construction jobs, significant hazards include big equipment and machinery. Workers must know how to operate equipment correctly and safely to avoid potentially devastating accidents.
In an office setting, the most pressing risks include occupational illnesses like carpal tunnel syndrome and repetitive stress injuries.
Awareness of industry-specific risks prevents accidents. It also helps your workers recognize the signs of an occupational illness early, so interventions are more effective. For instance, if workers know the symptoms of an illness caused by a chemical used in the workplace, they can identify and correct exposure issues before it becomes a bigger problem.
Employee Wellness Programs
Another great way to promote not just safety, but overall health is through a company wellness program. These programs help educate workers about healthy habits and preventing illness, disease, and injuries. These programs also provide valuable resources for employees that they might not otherwise have, such as a gym membership or regular blood pressure checks.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, workplace wellness programs can improve quality of life, reduce health risks, and lower health insurance premium costs and workers’ compensation claims. A properly implemented program may also help reduce sick days, improve productivity, and increase employee retention.
If you want to find the right wellness program for your employees—or create your own—bear in mind that your employees have unique health and wellness needs.
To gauge your staff’s most common or most immediate needs, you can conduct anonymous surveys and ask employees what resources they’re most interested in. Common employee wellness program features include:
- Classes on health topics, like lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke
- Mental health education and resources
- Access to a gym and fitness classes
- A recreational sports league or club
- Preventative health screenings
- A healthy food program in the workplace
- A tobacco-free workplace
Employer and Employee Efforts
Sustaining a work environment that promotes safety, health, and wellness involves both employer and employee efforts. Improving the workplace environment should be a team effort; if you can engage your employees and reduce liabilities while improving morale, everyone wins. No matter how long you’ve been in business, it isn’t too late to change your company’s culture and commit to wellness.