Employers have reported an average of 4.1 million nonfatal worker injuries annually for the past dozen years, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Tracking these incidents is no easy task. Organizations devote considerable resources and time to meet Occupational Safety and Health Administration reporting requirements. Sadly, many fail to go above and beyond baseline compliance – an ineffective approach that does little to actually address long-standing EHS risks in the workplace. This leads to more worker injuries and higher costs. In fact, serious employee injuries cost U.S. businesses $59.9 billion last year, analysts for Liberty Mutual Insurance discovered.
Enterprises owe it to their workers to improve incident monitoring practices and exceed simple compliance. How can they make this jump? These EHS improvement strategies can help:
Nail down the basics
Before implementing innovative new injury tracking methods, businesses must first ensure that current practices are in compliance with OSHA regulations. The agency requires firms with 10 employees or more to maintain records on work-related injuries or illnesses.
However, this rule does not apply to small incidents that require only basic first aid, which is defined as the application of non-prescription medication or bandages. Immunizations against tetanus, the non-invasive removal of foreign bodies from the eye and similar treatments also fall into this category.
OSHA mandates that all employers maintain injury and illness records dating back at least five years. Additionally, the agency asks all companies to make annual incident data available to the public via summaries published between February and April. Employers are required to report worker fatalities to the Department of Labor within eight hours of the event and amputations or hospitalizations within 24 hours.
Last year, OSHA announced the rollout of an electronic injury reporting system, The Washington Post reported. In May, the DOL suspended the program, which launched in January and carried an official data submission due date of July 1. However, the agency recently amended its earlier decision and reinstated the initiative with a new submission deadline of March 2, 2019, according to the National Safety Council. Employers can begin submitting injury and illness data Aug. 1 using OSHA’s Injury Tracking Application.
Organizations meeting these baseline compliance thresholds can move onto more advanced improvements capable of bolstering internal injury reporting practices and ultimately increasing safety in the workplace.
Account for near-misses
Workers narrowly avoid often. These near misses may not seem important in the grand scheme of the operation but they can offer insight into onsite conditions and give operational leaders clues as to how to improve safety. For this very reason, the NSC advises employers to track near misses like they would injuries or illnesses. What constitutes a near miss? OSHA and the NSC use this definition: An “unplanned event that did not result in injury, illness or damage – but had the potential to do so.”
Both organizations advise employers to fully investigate these instances and work to implement safety improvements that might prevent re-occurrences or actual injuries. Near-miss reporting programs often rely on employees, as they are most likely to observe such incidents. Of course, encouraging workers to report safety issues is no easy task, as many fear employers will punish them for identifying potentially fine-worthy lapses. Businesses must push back against this notion and work with staff to develop a “culture of reporting,” according to the NSC. With this environment in place, employers can roll out standardized reporting structures and capture near-miss data that could offer transformative insights into the workplace.
Adopt the latest technology
OSHA and other oversight agencies are releasing new injury reporting standards that necessitate agile compliance assurance practices. Reporting structures based on the movement of physical documentation are likely to fall apart under these regulations, leaving companies with costly compliance issues. What’s the answer?
Cutting-edge technology – specifically, EHS software.
These solutions not only streamline injury reporting structures but also open up new operational opportunities, such as the adoption of mobile record-keeping applications, EHS Today reported.