June 21, 2022

National Safety Month: Focus on Injury Prevention

Injury and illness prevention programs, or written safety programs, are the cornerstone of an effective workplace safety program. For these programs to be successful tools in preventing workplace injuries, they should include the systematic identification, evaluation and prevention or control of workplace- and task-specific hazards. When implemented effectively, workplaces experience significant decreases in injuries, and they often report a transformed workplace safety culture that can lead to higher productivity, reduced turnover and reduced costs.

The following are some actions businesses can take to implement an effective injury and illness prevention program:

  1. Management Leadership and Oversight
    • Establish clear safety and health goals for the program and define the actions needed to achieve those goals.
    • Designate one or more individuals as the safety “champion(s)” specifically responsible for implementing and maintaining the program.
    • Provide sufficient resources to ensure effective program implementation.
    • Remain engaged and involved in the program; show support and encouragement for employees who are positive examples of the organization’s safety culture.
  2. Worker Participation
    • Partner with workers for input and feedback when developing and implementing the program; involve them in evaluating and updating the program.
    • Involve workers in workplace inspections and incident investigations.
    • Empower and encourage workers to report concerns, such as hazards, injuries, illnesses and near misses in a timely manner. Consider utilizing technology to make reporting of these issues and documenting corrective actions more efficient.
  3. Hazard Identification and Assessment
    • Identify, assess, and document workplace hazards by regularly inspecting the workplace and soliciting input from workers.
    • Investigate injuries and illnesses to identify hazards that may have caused them and potential corrective actions.
  4. Hazard Prevention and Control
    • Establish and implement a plan to prioritize and control hazards identified in the workplace.
    • Provide interim controls to protect workers from any hazards that cannot be controlled immediately.
    • Verify that all control measures are implemented and are effective.
    • Discuss the hazard control plan with affected workers.
  5. Education and Training
    • Provide education and training to workers in a language and vocabulary they can understand to ensure that they know the following:
      • Elements of the program.
      • How to participate in the program.
      • Known hazards in the workplace and processes in place to prevent injury.
      • Procedures for reporting injuries, illnesses, and safety and health concerns.
      • Ways to recognize, eliminate, control and/or reduce hazards.
    • Conduct refresher education and training programs periodically.
  6. Program Evaluation and Improvement
    • Conduct a periodic review, no less frequently than annually, of the program to determine whether it has been implemented as designed and is making progress towards achieving its goals.
    • Modify the program as necessary to correct deficiencies or when there is a significant change in a process or procedure.
    • Identify opportunities for continuous improvement the program.

For more helpful information, visit the Injury and Illness Prevention Program page on OSHA’s website or contact Western Growers Insurance Services.

Western Growers Insurance Services is a full-service insurance brokerage offering a suite of insurance and tailored risk management solutions to agribusiness and related industry members. For more information or assistance, please contact Ken Cooper, Director Risk Strategy for Western Growers Insurance Services, at [email protected]

June has been designated as National Safety Month by the National Safety Council. This event is intended to increase awareness of workplace safety topics and reinforce our collaborative responsibility to keep each other safe. Safety is everyone’s responsibility!

This article is one of a four-part, weekly series following the topics designated for National Safety Month. 

The topics are:

Week 1: Musculoskeletal Injuries – These are the leading cause of workplace injury and cost billions each year in workers’ compensation and lost productivity costs.

Week 2: Workplace Impairment – We all know the dangers of substance use on the job. Did you know that mental distress, stress, and fatigue are also impairing?

Week 3: Injury Prevention – In 2020 alone, more than four million workplace injuries required medical attention in the U.S. Focus on preventive measures can improve organizational efficiency and reduce costs associated with workplace injuries.

Week 4: Slips, Trips, Falls – A frequent cause of significant workplace injury and associated costs, these types of incidents are often preventable.