In this Edition... Unconventional Methods for Workplace Safety
This month’s edition of Labor Link takes a different approach to workplace safety by examining elements of workplace safety that go unmentioned, unknown, or venture outside the traditional realm. We are taking the opportunity to shed some light on topics like workplace violence, Missouri’s efforts to increase farm safety, and the growing trend of company health and wellness plans.
Keeping a Watchful Eye
While many employers seek to improve safety in the workplace, one facet that is often overlooked is violence in the workplace. Workplace violence is any physical assault, threatening behavior, or verbal abuse occurring in the workplace, and it can be caused by an employee, employer, or customer. It can include (but is not limited to) aggravated assault, sexual assault, product tampering, sabotage, and homicide (including acts committed during robberies). Did you know that the leading cause of death on the job for women is stalking? In fact, one out of 20 women will be the victim of a stalker.
Fortunately, workplace violence is often preventable, through an active safety plan. Employers or their safety consultants should first conduct a workplace risk assessment, and then develop preventative measures. These measures can range from having visitors sign in at a reception desk, visitor badges, security cameras, key/card access only entrances, and even on-site patrols by law enforcement. Providing training to all employees is vital, especially identifying what constitutes workplace violence, and how to report it. First aid training is also good to provide to employees in the event someone is injured as a result of workplace violence.
Having a crisis response plan to workplace violence is critical and should include how to document threats, respond to threats, and know both emergency and non-emergency numbers for law enforcement. Workplace violence is an extremely important subject, but is often overlooked. Put the safety of employees and customers first, and make sure to be prepared for potential workplace violence. Request the new ‘Violence in the Workplace’ presentation by visiting the Department’s website and filling out a Speaker’s Bureau request form or by calling 573-751-3209.
Sow the Seeds of Safety on the Farm
Many people consider farming a lifestyle, not an occupation. But, farming is indeed an occupation, and if farmers adopt similar safety practices as traditional workplaces, they may also begin to see the same benefits, such as a safer workplace for all.
Unfortunately, Missouri does see a lot of injuries and fatalities in the farm industry. In an attempt to prevent these incidents from occurring, the Department of Labor has teamed up with the Department of Agriculture to create a FREE safety program for both family farms and commercial farming operations.
Working closely with farmers to improve safety on their farms will help grow a new generation of safety, by allowing current farmers to share this information with young farmers. By working with professional safety consultants, farmers can make their farms safer not only for themselves and their workers, but for the generations to follow.
If farmers experience an incident or just want to learn more about how to improve safety, the Department can come out and help examine the equipment, operating procedures, and more. Consultants can analyze the incident and provide safety recommendations in order to prevent future occurrences. And launching in the near future will be a Farm Safety webpage, dedicated to providing safety tips as well as offering free safety consultations.
Creating a Healthier Workforce
Traditionally, leading a healthy life has been considered a private or personal matter. Exercising and eating right had little to do with the workplace. However, in today’s society a healthy lifestyle can lead to many positive implications in the workplace – not to mention it can foster a mutually beneficial relationship between employers and their employees!
Most people spend about two-thirds of their day at work, which means that adopting a healthy lifestyle has to be incorporated into the workplace as well as at home. With healthcare costs on the rise, employers have more at stake when it comes to their employees’ health. Creating a work environment that encourages regular physical activity and healthy eating is in the best interest of both employers and employees. Implementing a health and wellness plan can be simple and cost effective. Examples include providing an on-site work out area for use during breaks, providing healthy snacks during office celebrations instead of the typical brownies, cookies, or cake, and organizing company sponsored walks, runs, marathons, etc.
The most successful programs are incentive driven. Company leaders, or a designated health and wellness leader(s), should come up with a system to recognize healthy employee behavior. For example, some employers have found using a point system effective, when employees accrue health and wellness points and can redeem them for prizes. Rewards may include gift cards, cash rewards, merchandise, or vacation time. Research shows that the most effective and motivational tactic is providing employees with cuts in healthcare premiums.
By improving the overall health and fitness of a company’s workforce, employees will enjoy many benefits, including higher energy levels and better moods. In essence, healthier workers are more productive workers, as well as a lower liability to employers – leading to increased savings for employers and employees alike.