If you are running your own business, it is essential that you have systems in place that are designed to limit the chance of a workplace accident occurring. This is even more important if you are in an industry that is labor intensive, where there is an increased likelihood of workplace injuries occurring.
There can be serious consequences if an injury occurs and you have been negligent in your safety precautions. In order to help you prevent accidents in the workplace and mitigate the risk of injury, we created this article to help you implement safety measures and ensure a safe work environment.
What is a workplace accident?
A workplace accident is an unexpected event that causes physical harm to an employee. In 2019, 925 workplace fatalities were recorded in Canada (source).
Different workplaces have varying levels of risk for workplace injuries. For example, individuals working on a construction site are more likely to experience a workplace injury than a person working at a desk in an office.
Although some professions are more susceptible to workplace accidents, none are immune. This is why those in charge need to regularly assess the working environment and continuously implement safety measures to prevent accidents.
What can cause accidents at work?
There are different factors that can cause workplace accidents. The kinds of injuries that occur can vary from profession to profession. Some types of accidents are more likely to occur in some workplaces than in others. However, in general, most workplace accidents can be attributed to common causes such as:
- Overexertion or fatigue
- Messy work environments
- Unsafe or broken machinery
- Heavy lifting
- Dealing with hazardous materials
- Lack of personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Workplace violence
- Manual handling
- Moving vehicles in the work area
This list is not exhaustive. Workplace accidents can come from anywhere at any time which is why it is essential to be vigilant and stay on top of workplace safety.
Five tips to prevent accidents at work
There is no limit to what you can do to ensure that your workplace is an accident-free zone. Here are a few tips on how to prevent workplace accidents and ensure that your workplace is as safe as possible.
Perform safety Gemba Walks
Gemba safety walks are a great way to continuously monitor the safety of your work environment. Gemba walk is a management technique that consists of walking and observing processes in order to foster a culture of continuous improvement. Gemba walks can focus on different aspects of your business (leadership, workplace safety, etc.).
A Gemba safety Walk or a safety Gemba Walk is basically a safety walk which is integrated into the Gemba management method. Businesses perform them to find areas of improvement as well as identify the actions that are needed to make daily tasks and work safer.
Performing regular Gemba Walks will ensure that safety measures are not forgotten and are continuously updated to accommodate changing work conditions. It will also allow you to be able to quickly identify whether something is unsafe or simply not working to the advantage of your employees.
Conduct risk assessments
In order to prevent risks, you need to know exactly what the risks are which is why it’s important to conduct thorough risk assessments. Once the risks have been identified, it is your responsibility to put systems in place that are designed to reduce the likelihood of accidents occurring. You also need to be able to identify which individuals are most likely to be affected by the risks present, as this will inevitably inform how you train them.
Provide thorough training
Training is essential if you want to limit the chances of an accident happening at work. After all, if people don’t know how to properly do their job, there is a good chance that something will go wrong. Training is especially important for jobs that involve machinery or vehicles. If the employees who are tasked with using these don’t have a thorough understanding of how the equipment works, they are likely to cause mishaps. By providing regular training, you can optimize safety at work.
Keep the workplace clean
One of the biggest hazards in a workplace is a messy space. If you have things all over the floor, you automatically increase the chances of someone slipping or falling. This is one of the most basic rules in workplace safety and is extremely easy to achieve with minimal effort.
You should establish a regular cleaning routine and ensure that you set cleanliness standards in the workplace. You should also ensure that any unexpected problems such as water leaks are dealt with immediately. These simple steps will help keep your working area clean and clear and reduce the chances of workplace accidents.
Make people aware of dangers
In some cases, dangers in the workplace are simply unavoidable. However, this does not mean that they have to cause accidents. For example, industries in which harsh, flammable chemical substances are often used are more exposed to the risk of a workplace fire.
Thankfully, if you make workers aware of the dangers associated with the materials they use, in addition to providing adequate training, you will be able to mitigate the problem. Similarly, if there is an area of the workplace in which hazardous materials are present, you should put signs that remind people to wear their PPE. Even minor temporary dangers, such as water on the floor, should have warning signs around them.
What should you do when an accident happens in the workplace?
If an accident occurs in the workplace, the first thing you need to do is ensure the individual or individuals who are hurt are out of harm’s way and that there is no threat of immediate danger to anyone else. You then need to report the incident. Once this has been done, you should organize a Gemba safety Walk to determine how to best mitigate the problem in the future.
Digitize your Gemba Walk
At the end of the day, it is your responsibility as a business owner and employer to ensure the occupational safety of everyone who works for you. The best way to do this is to perform regular Gemba safety Walks to ensure a danger-free working zone.
The Gemba Walk app, developed by Shift, brings lean management and safety to the cloud. Our online system makes collecting the data from a Gemba Walk easier than ever, as all of your team’s findings can be uploaded online. You can use our system online or offline and generate comprehensive reports based on your data and findings.
The Gemba Walk app goes beyond simple safety and can also encompass management, production, human resources, and IT, thereby allowing you to improve your business from every angle.