No employer wants to have an unsafe workplace. After all, onsite injuries only serve to hurt morale, cost the company money, and slow down production. But, considering that a study from the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Education and Labor revealed that 69% of injuries and illnesses may be going unreported, in addition to the 3.1 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses recorded by the BLS, companies are still feeling the massive effects of workplace accidents.
While no one can completely accident-proof their business, one simple and very effective way to minimize injuries is to encourage employees to report any near misses they have in the workplace. But, with many employees already feeling reluctant to report actual accidents, even fewer feel comfortable broadcasting their close calls. It’s up to you, as their leader, to create an atmosphere that encourages and welcomes employees’ feedback and personal experiences dealing with potential hazards or unsafe work processes. Unfortunately, that atmosphere isn’t going to come from the usual focus on the company’s lost time and money. You’ve got to make it personal by focusing on how reporting workplace dangers will affect their teammates.
Encourage your employees to report dangerous conditions to help protect their colleagues. When employees see each other for 40 plus hours a week, they grow close. Make it a matter of keeping teammates safe, and not a matter of reporting a mistake – this will help take the element of pride out of the equation.
Even with workers’ compensation, workplace injuries can cause financial hardships in both the short- and long-term. Employees can easily sympathize with the financial stress their teammates would feel if they were injured, so point out how they’re helping save their friends and their families from a tough experience.
Most workplace teams have team goals they’re trying to meet, and an injury to just one member can make it hard for the team to succeed. Encourage workers to keep an eye out for anything that could hinder their team from reaching their achievements, including potential accidents. Maybe even make identifying potential workplace hazards a team goal to keep it top of mind.
Getting employees to break the silence associated with close calls and workplace injuries isn’t easy. But, it’s up to business leaders to create a work atmosphere that fosters communication and put a personal focus on this unpopular subject.