Why Safety Issues Go Unreported

Why Safety Issues Go Unreported

Most people go to work expecting a safe workplace. OSHA messages abound recommending safety tips and encouraging reporting of safety issues. Despite this, a large number of incidents occur each year, sometimes serious. To explain this, two groups conducted studies into workplace safety. The studies each reached a similar result: the solution to workplace safety lay in proper supervision.

The first study, conducted by the National Safety Council, was published in volume 45 of the Journal of Safety and Security. This study discovered a large number of younger employees unwilling to report safety issues due to real or perceived minimal workplace influence. Recognizing safety issues may also mean awkward interactions with supervisors, a refusal to work in a hazardous environment, or contacting safety entities.

Campaigns encouraging younger workers to recognize and report safety issues have been minimally successful, with many choosing to work rather than stir things up. Often, young workers hope someone else reports safety issues before an incident, or the safety hazard will resolve itself.

This sense of having little influence stems from age and experience. Many younger works assume any reports will go ignored or will amount to very little due to influence. Some employees find strength in each other and may report safety issues after building consensus.

The second set of results comes from a study from the AFL-CIO-affiliated Center for Construction Research and Training. This study surveyed construction workers, coming to similar conclusions. According to this study, construction workers may leave injuries unreported on the job site for many reasons. Of the 235 construction workers surveyed, 27% responded with having left one or more injury unreported.

Of the unreported injuries, over 70% went so because the worker involved deemed the injury “too small”. Other reasons for leaving injuries unreported included:

  • Becoming injured is part of the job
  • Avoiding appearing weak
  • The problem can be corrected at home
  • Unsure if the injury is work-related
  • Fear of losing a job or contract
  • Lacking paid time off to visit a medical professional
  • Keeping other work-related benefits

Regardless of size, injuries should be reported. Minor injuries left untreated may lead to greater problems later on. Some injuries will go unnoticed for months or years following an incident. Report all issues to safety personnel so they can make the decision. Unreported issues are bad for the company and staff. In the long run, untreated injuries may cost both parties far more than initial treatment or some rest.

According to the International Journal of Occupational Safety and Ergonomics, Volume 19, Number 1, the solution may lie in creating a culture of communication in the workplace. This method, also called positive error management encourages the sharing of near-accidents with management as a tool for learning instead of punishment. Learning how to avoid future accidents can help the company more than punitive actions.

Daily, open communication between management and junior staff helps employees feel comfortable reporting safety issues and other hazards. Supervisors can demonstrate they care by asking employees to share concerns before someone is harmed in the workplace.

This will likely send a powerful message to both new and existing employees. A supervisor has the ability to back up the talk with motivating actions that will get the point across. Encourage open communication and work toward a safer work environment.

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Supervisors Are Responsible for Safety

Supervisors Are Responsible for Safety

Supervisors have a lot to keep track of. Management means more than assigning work. Managers maintain a list of responsibilities affecting workplace safety. Effective supervisors create safe environments through action and training. Staff trained to spot and report safety issues create a safer environment. To promote a safe environment for industry, apply the following methods to the workplace:

Staff Training

Encourage staff to locate hazards, maintain awareness, and perform work safely. Train staff on any protective equipment necessary, and label all steps for emergency response. Ensure completion of all mandatory safety training courses, and keep accurate records.

Safe Methods

Supervisors are responsible for more than getting the job complete, it must be completed safely. Safe practices apply to careers from the office to construction. In some cases, managers may need to create methods to reduce risk in the workplace. Employees with open communication with a manager will be able to report any safety concerns.

Fast response to safety concerns builds trust and creates a safer environment. For situations beyond a manager’s control to resolve, take any immediate action necessary to keep worker’s safe. Report to higher management and follow-up until resolved.

Clear Hazards

The majority of workplace claims begin with an unsafe environment. Managers training staff to spot safety hazards and remove them to see reduced workplace-accidents. Once hazards are located, take any proper safety and removal measures. Prevent further employee contact with hazards until resolution.

Follow-Up on Claims and Reports

Effective managers investigate all reports of unsafe situations in the workplace. Inform staff members on the proper steps for reporting workplace incidents to the OMS (Occupation Medical Service). Stay compliant. The National Institute of Health (NIH) requires reporting of all workplace injuries. Working with OSHA, the OMS investigates and resolves workplace hazards and injuries. Address any official employee-claims forms promptly.

Encourage a Speedy Return

The longer employees remain away from the workplace, the less likely it is they will return at all. Encourage workers absent from the workplace due to injury to return to work as soon as medically cleared. Consider any physical limitations caused by injuries, limiting employee duties if possible. Keeping teams motivated, safe and effective helps managers succeed.

A lot can happen in a workplace. Add the human factor and anything is possible. The right training, communication, and processes can help keep employees safe and insurance costs low. Talk to an insurance agent today for tips on keeping rates low through workplace safety.

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Active Shooter Preparedness

Active Shooter Preparedness

The recent shooting in Vegas is a grim reminder: active shooter scenarios occur all too often. According to the Department of Homeland security, over 1500 workplace shootings happen in the past year. Many of these shooters are on destructive paths, bent on hurting as many people as possible.

The National Safety Council recommends active shooter preparedness become part of workplace safety plans. These strategies can help workers survive an active shooter:

1. Run

Run as quickly as possible. Take the opportunity and encourage others to as well. There may be active gunfire. Avoid any unnecessary risks and leave the area.

Emergency responders may already be on-scene. For safety, keep hands visible and follow instructions from emergency personnel. Keep hands above the head. Relay any information about the shooter to police and rescue personnel.

2. Hide

Unsure of shooter location, blocked from exiting, or otherwise unable to leave the area? Hide. Lockable rooms and doors make good barriers. Place objects against the door for added security.

Turn electronic devices off. Workplace shooters may hear a ringing phone, text message, or other audible tones. Turn phones and other devices off.

3. Fight

Shooters may be too close to run or may force action. As a last option, fight active shooters and overcome them. Attack and aim for weak areas such as the neck, groin, and face. Anything in the area becomes a weapon of opportunity. Chairs, extinguishers, and other office supplies are fair game. Subdue a shooter as best possible and let law enforcement handle the rest.

Safety and security are important. Speak an agent today about this or other insurance-related material.