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    April 5, 2018

    What’s in Your Injury and Illness Prevention Program?

    Or, perhaps a better question would be, do you have an illness and prevention program?

    If you do, consider yourself a step ahead. Even though illnesses and injuries account for millions of lost work hours and billions of dollars in workers' compensation claims, lawsuits, and lost productivity, many companies still do not have a formal injury and illness prevention program in place.

    If you’re among those who do not have such a plan in place, now is the time to start.

    What Is an Injury and Illness Prevention Program?

    You can’t prevent every sick day, but you can take steps to reduce illnesses caused by the work environment. An injury and illness prevention program is a proactive approach to fix or reduce workplace hazards before they cause problems. This program isn’t a federal requirement, but many states have already adopted such programs to increase worker safety.

    Companies who do engage in a program experience a reduction in workplace injuries and a noticeable uptick in safety culture.

    Workplace deaths and injuries have dropped 60% since OSHA was put into practice, yet many preventable incidents, including fatal ones, still occur in the workplace each year.

    According to OSHA, there were 14 work-related deaths a day in 2016. In addition, more than 4.1 million workers become seriously injured each year while on the job.

    Not every accident or illness can be avoided, but many of them can by placing a heavier emphasis on prevention.

    The Cost of Jobsite Illness and Injury

    Workers' compensation costs are just the beginning. When someone is injured on the job, workers and the company alike may experience indirect costs, including

    • Loss of productivity
    • Wages not covered by compensation
    • Man-hours required to manage the illness or injury case
    • Costs associated with hiring temp help
    • Replacing damaged material or machines

    In addition, there’s the added cost of what a workplace illness or injury inflicts on your reputation as a company. A major injury or fatality on the job might make it difficult to recruit top talent, plus it could encourage some of your current workforce to look for a new job.

    Despite having fewer workplace injuries since OSHA was developed, employers are paying more for workers' compensation than ever before. In fact, this cost rose from $60 billion in 2000 to $74 billion in 2009.

    How Does the Program Work?

    An injury and illness prevention program starts by identifying workplace hazards before they’re able to cause harm. Once discovered, your task is to minimize, eliminate, or properly control these hazards to prevent a serious incident.

    These hazards aren’t always so obvious, such as identifying slick areas or unstable fixtures. Some hazards may cause sudden illnesses or future health problems, which could later affect your company’s and its workers’ financial stability.

    For example, research indicates that between 10,000 and 20,000 people die from cancer caused by occupational exposure each year.

    Getting leadership buy-in is key to this program’s success. Company leaders and other key personnel must understand how the program works and know how to report findings and manage tasks associated with keeping the workspace safe. In addition, your workers should be properly trained in the program to ensure their continued involvement.

    Finally, you should evaluate the findings of your program each year to gauge its effectiveness and find new areas of opportunity.

    Truthfully, every business is unique. This program will look and function differently for each company. How you implement the program will depend on several factors, including your company safety culture, workforce, company policies, and the hazards unique to your business.

    How to Start (or Improve) an Injury and Illness Prevention Program

    If you have an existing program, take time to review it each year to find where you can make improvements. Just like your equipment and machines, your program also needs maintenance to continue delivering optimal benefits.

    If you don’t currently have a program, investing in EHS software can help you start one from scratch easier than going it alone. Software solutions can establish core processes and organize your data to keep your program on track and allow you to measure its results.

    To find out more about how you can implement a successful injury and illness prevention program using software, reach out to us today.

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