5 reasons to consider an injury-prevention and treatment program
Did you know, workplace injuries cost employers nearly $60 billion a year?
Nearly three million on-the-job injuries occur each year (and more than one-third of those injuries required time off from work in order to recover)?
Did you know 1.2 million missed work days were reported in 2017 due to injuries? Or that workers took an average of eight days away from the workplace to recuperate from these injuries?
These jarring statistics come directly from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and present an accurate — and frightening — picture of where we’re at when it comes to injuries in the workplace.
Why are there so many workplace injuries?
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there are four reasons we’re seeing more injuries in the American workforce:
1. The nature of work continues to evolve. The economy continues to shift from one based on manufacturing to service. And from a workforce that was previously more “fixed” to one that’s now much more mobile.
2. Work activities are increasingly automated. Technology, computers, and robotics are being integrated into our workplaces, often introducing new and different hazards. And recently, at an alarmingly fast pace.
3. More diversity in the workforce. People from different backgrounds and cultures are working alongside each other more frequently — often speaking different languages and creating communication barriers in the process.
4. An increasingly aging workforce. The rise of sedentary work and lifestyles means that some workers are at higher risk for work-related musculoskeletal disorders.
So, quite a few people are being injured on-the-job. It’s costing employers billions of dollars a year. And, it’s due to an increasingly more diverse, automated and aging workforce.
Since those factors listed above likely aren’t changing anytime soon, employers need to start thinking proactively. And they need to start thinking about injury prevention.
Key reasons for implementing injury & prevention programs
Here are five key reasons why your organization should consider implementing an injury and prevention program this year:
1. Create a culture of safety at work. First and foremost, an injury and prevention program can help you create a work culture where safety comes first. This means addressing the three critical components of injury prevention: the work (through education and training programs), the work environment (through ergonomics), and the worker (through physical/occupational therapy and work conditioning programs).
2. Improve workplace safety and health. Creating a safe working environment is job number one. And, it doesn’t have to be that complicated. For example, an energy company recently came to us saying its office-based employees were experiencing a higher number of injuries and illnesses, resulting in higher medical and disability costs and absenteeism. We suggested a simple office ergonomics program to help prevent repetitive motion injuries. In the first year, it had a 74% success rate in addressing the early signs and symptoms of the workplace injuries.
3. Reduce OSHA claims. No one wants OSHA claims on their books. So, it pays (literally) to prevent injuries and reduce these costly claims. For example, a manufacturing company recently turned to us for help as they were experiencing an increase in injuries among new hires. This was leading to increased OSHA recordable rates, workers’ compensation costs and absenteeism. After discovering that the manufacturer’s employees were deconditioned and less than optimal work practices were being used, we suggested a new hire work conditioning program and workstation ergonomics to assist with new work tasks and teach optimal best safe practices. The results? OSHA recordable rates were reduced from 48 to 19 in the first year — and from 19 to just 12 in the second year.
4. Lower worker’s compensation claims and costs. A few simple changes to the workplace and your processes can lead to substantial cost savings for employers. The manufacturer I noted above, for example, reduced their OSHA claims significantly by making a few changes to their internal processes and ergonomics. As a result, they avoided costs of $12,000-$25,000 per case.
5. Reduce employee turnover. Admittedly one of the hardest metrics to measure, in the end high turnover is definitely among the most costly to any business. Injury and prevention programs can help create a safer workplace, which leads to healthier employees and fewer missed workdays — and, as a result, less turnover.