Accidents in the workplace are among the worst possible scenarios for utility companies. Workplace accidents can be harmful to an employee’s life in ways that go far beyond what they do on the job, and any good company strives to keep their employees safe, healthy, and happy.
But on-the-job injuries, especially those that result in workers’ compensation claims, are also detrimental to the company. They result in lower productivity, time spent replacing and training personnel, unplanned overtime for other employees, and a variety of other expenses and setbacks.
It’s safe to say that for most companies, reducing the accidents that lead to workers’ compensation claims is in the best interest of all parties involved.
Of course, this is easier said than done. For utility workers working closely with electricity, water, and in potentially hazardous environments, risk is just part of the job. But keeping workers safe must be a primary objective for any utility company, and taking these steps can certainly minimize the risks that lead to workplace accidents. Here are some ways to create a safe workplace environment.
Prioritize Risk Assessment and Prevention
Utility companies must have a dedicated, knowledgeable safety team that can assess risk factors for employees at business facilities and in the field. They should be adequately staffed and trained to meet the company’s needs, as well as understand the hazards that follow your employees wherever they go on the job.
A good safety team will take steps like these to ensure employee safety:
- Create a written safety plan.
Having a written set of policies for safe conduct is vital, along with corresponding procedures for prevention and for reporting incidents. The plan should be based on OSHA requirements for the industry and should be tailored to your business. Making sure all your emergency exits are identified and up to code is also a top priority in any safety plan.
- Create a written safety plan.
- Consistently audit, update, and maintain the plan.
Over time, circumstances and experiences may require additions and changes to the safety plan. Ensure your plan is regularly updated with the most current information available.
- Engage your insurer.
Insurance companies are professional risk assessors and may be able to offer advice for best practices to keep workers safe.
Enact Comprehensive Training Practices
Training is essential for conveying safe practices, even for seasoned pros. Maintaining a rigorous training program creates an environment where safety comes first for everyone.
Training programs should be job-specific and should be taken seriously, reminding employees that their lives — and the lives of others around them — are often on the line in the field, and safety should be taken seriously at all times. Even neglecting safety in simple aspects of the job, such as lifting heavy objects without proper safety equipment, can lead to problems.
- Train at regular intervals.
Training isn’t just for new employees; it needs to be an ongoing requirement, particularly when safety is at a premium. Anytime there is a new piece of equipment introduced, anyone who may use the machine or even come into contact with it should be trained on its safe use.
Continuing safety training and “refresher” courses continue to drill in best practices for all employees. Encourage your team to take regular breaks as well.
- Train at regular intervals.
- Encourage an ongoing dialogue.
Encourage employees to report safety matters, and welcome their questions anytime. When an issue is reported, follow up and act on it promptly.
- Evaluate processes and change them when necessary.
Conducting regular safety reviews, updating training procedures, and implementing preventive measures will help ensure the rules are clear, accurate, and properly reflect the utility’s needs.
- Consider multiple training types.
In-person or classroom training, online modules or webinars, and reading materials can all be effective. Learn which works best for your company, or even better, use multiple methods to make it easier and more convenient for employees and trainers.
Foster a Culture of Safety First
The best way to create a company that prioritizes safety is to have leadership that demands safety be put first. That priority must begin at the top and be pushed ahead of the normal metrics and goals. When management gives more value to a job done more slowly and safely than one done quickly, the rest of the company will follow suit.
Implementing processes and procedures is a great first step, but if they are pushed aside when the chips are down, they don’t mean a whole lot. Here are ways to create a workplace culture of safe practices:
- Reward good safety records.
Employees who value safety should be rewarded for their efforts. Commending consistently good safety records, or even small accident-avoiding gestures, should come with praise or other incentives.
- Pay attention to the small stuff.
Sometimes, seemingly small gestures can have big payoffs. Managing the little details, such as optional equipment like a portable restroom solution, and a secondary portable restroom solution can keep technicians from situations where they do something careless that results in an injured employee..
- Reinforce safety daily.
When you talk about safety and the potential consequences every day, you keep it at the top of everyone’s minds. Work to follow best safety practices daily.
Indeed, it is often the little things that prevent costly accidents, higher insurance premiums, and the other pains that come with workers’ compensation claims. Having a safety program in place is a long term effort to reduce workplace injuries.
Brief Relief specializes in portable restroom solutions like the Disposa-John Portable Restroom which can help prevent emergency restroom situations that can lead to careless mistakes. Having the foresight to anticipate these types of scenarios not only prevents unsafe practices, it can save money and effort in the long run by preventing accidents and costly compensation claims.
Help your utility workers stay comfortable on the job with these workplace safety tips. Workers whose needs are met are safer workers. See how Brief Relief products can help your workers stay efficient, reliable, and safe when working in potentially hazardous environments. Always remember to create a safe work environment that practices a strong safety culture.