Powerful Prevention: Beef Up Your Safety Program
The best way to reduce your Workers Comp costs is to prevent injuries in the first place. Don't rely on "common sense" (it's not common enough). You need to develop and enforce a solid safety program.
California law requires all employers with ten or more employees to have a written safety program (specifically, an Injury and Illness Prevention Program). Those with less than ten are better off to have one as well, although the law allows these smaller employers to communicate safety rules orally. But should a worker later allege that he or she wasn't properly instructed, it's much more difficult to defend. It's in your best interest to put it in writing, post signs and conduct briefings to remind workers about safety, and to help them stay safe as much as possible.
Worker accidents can impact your bottom line in more ways than you might realize. Along with shocking insurance premiums, indirect costs such as lower productivity, equipment downtime, replacement worker training, lost sales and decreased morale can injure your business.
These costs can amount to as much as seven times the direct costs. This is why it's vitally important to have - and enforce - effective safety and loss control programs.
Studies show that 90 percent of all workplace injuries are due to unsafe behaviors. If your workers are trained in safe practices, and your program emphasizes management's commitment to safety, how your employees safely perform their work will become second nature.
It's even more effective if your employees participate in helping to define which safety measures are appropriate, and in evaluating the results. In keeping with that, attorney Bill Porter advises, "When employees report concerns, or actual occurrences of unsafe work conditions, be sure to take immediate corrective action and document all actions taken."
If the rules apply to everyone from the president on down, and everyone has a stake in the program's success, your safety program will go far toward reducing workplace accidents ... and your Workers Comp premiums.
CLCA's on-line store has several programs available to help you create and maintain a good safety program, including:
Complete Safety Program and Risk Control Guide
California requires all employers to create a formal Injury Prevention Program. This guide is written for the specific needs of landscape contractors and can get you through the process quickly and effectively. BUY HERE
STARS Safety Resource Manual CD
Use this manual to implement your company safety program. This manual contains essential information on fleet safety, employee orientation, occupational injury management, substance abuse, fraud prevention, hazard communications, commercial driver license standards, material handling, accident investigation guidelines, and chemical application safety. BUY HERE
180 Two-Minute Safety Talks for Supervisors
Reinforce safety daily and protect your employees and your firm with information on accident prevention, on-the-job safety, equipment and tools, safe driving techniques, first aid, and off-the-job safety. Available in English and Spanish. BUY HERE
The California Department of Industrial Relations also has available online their Model Injury and Illness Prevention Program for High Hazard Employers. This document will walk you step-by-step through what you'll need to establish the required program, but it's not as industry-specific as CLCA's Complete Safety Program and Risk Control Guide. You can download the DIR model at www.dir.ca.gov.