In pursuing health and success for a business, safety compliance is critical and we understand why. Monitoring injuries and potential hazards can help your workplace combat risks and costly fines. It can also make employees feel safer, but understanding where to begin isn’t always easy.
Maintaining workplace health and safety reporting is a practical challenge for HR teams already balancing a lot on their plates. Plus, fluidity and growth in the compliance industry over the past few years have added some complex obstacles.
Reporting requirements are likely to keep shifting. The more aware you are of changing regulations, the better prepared you will be to meet the uncertainty of maintaining health and safety in the workplace.
Meeting Regulations Around Employee Health and Safety
There are no two ways about it: Being compliant in the workplace is a must for companies that don’t want to welcome risk. For starters, companies that don’t adequately or accurately report workplace incidents could incur financial penalties from regulatory bodies or have legal action taken against them. What’s more, the public could form the opinion that your company doesn’t protect its most valued assets: employees.
Being prepared to confront the evolving nature of health and safety concerns can put you at ease when an unfortunate incident does occur. But how should you go about it practically? These three elements should be part of your action plan to maintain health and safety in the workplace:
1. Make record-keeping a habit.
Employee health and safety is something no company can afford not to prioritize. If a workplace incident or mishap occurs, you shouldn’t wait to report or record it.
Getting proactive about record-keeping will save you a lot of time and stress when reporting to the Occupational Safety and Health Association, or OSHA. Track recordable incidents throughout the year and always maintain an accurate count of all information required for the OSHA log. This information can include injury information (e.g., date, body part, location), restricted days, lost time, the annual average number of employees, and their total hours worked.
This data can be complicated and time-consuming to gather in one fell swoop, so establish a practice of thoroughly documenting every injury, incident, and safety audit as it occurs. Doing so will also put troves of insightful safety data in your hands. For example, suppose the numbers tell you that the most common injury in your organization is lower back pain. In that case, you could introduce preventive measures, such as mandatory lunchtime stretching periods or weight limits on packages. The more informed you stay on injury occurrences, the more proactive and supportive you can be about employee safety.
2. Work to reduce employee injuries.
The safest way to make OSHA reporting more efficient is to have fewer employee injuries. Easier said than done, sure, but if you and your team dedicate time to preventing injuries, you might be surprised at the difference.
Start by removing any unnecessary hazards from your workplace. Then, try scheduling regular check-ins with your employees and taking note of their safety concerns. These conversations can help you shine a spotlight on hazards you haven’t even considered.
That said, actively trying to avoid on-site injuries doesn’t guarantee they won’t happen. A business that works with any risk will have a run-in with OSHA at some point. If you’re unlucky enough to have to report a fatality, serious incident, or complaint against your business, OSHA will reach out to you for additional information.
When it does, you want to be ready to comply with the OSHA reporting requirements. Be prepared to present a record of all nonminor injuries, copies of the safety training provided to employees, and hazard assessments. These documentations also serve to educate your team continuously about safety trends.
3. Categorize staff logs.
When your company diligently maintains accurate safety reports, it creates a buffer against legal action. Reports are verifiable and evidential, and they can help make your case if your business faces a lawsuit.
Keeping timely safety reports is especially useful because many lawsuits happen months or even years after an incident. Preserving documents like associate reports, investigation summaries, medical documents, email correspondence, and photographic or video evidence means you can be ready to inform your legal team when ready.
Your HR network might be complicated, especially right now when contingent workforces are trending. When working with different types of employees (e.g., seasonal, part-time, or temporary employees), make it a little easier on yourself by distinguishing among them. If you’re working with a staffing agency, ensure that they have strong safety processes, prioritize associate safety, manage incident documentation, and oversee workers’ compensation claims.
Making compliance reporting more efficient in your workplace will take some time. Once you have a plan in place, reporting activities should be easier and more efficient.
Maintaining health and safety in the workplace is critical for your business’s survival. Streamlined reporting will help you stay organized and safeguarded from legal action. Prioritizing health and safety is also a necessary investment in the value employees bring to your company. It can lead to fewer accidents and injuries. It can help keep your teams healthy and ready to perform at their best.