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How to Build a Safer Workplace by Treating Employees Like You Treat Your Customers

How employers respond to a workplace injury makes a big difference.

The most admired and successful companies go above and beyond when it comes to meeting the needs of their customers. Their client interactions are frequent, friendly and personalized. Customer concerns are addressed promptly and accurately. The result is loyal and happy clients.

Typically, these companies apply the same principles internally. This extends to areas such as maintaining the health and safety of employees. Similarly, best-in-class safety practices go well beyond meeting employer compliance requirements, especially when dealing with a workplace injury.

The very first communications between an employer and an employee following an accident at work often will set the tone for all interactions that follow. In some cases, they may even impact how quickly an employee is able to return to work. Just as a customer wants to feel respected and valued by the company, so does an employee.

These are some best practices for managing workplace injuries as part of a comprehensive safety program.

Have a plan

This means developing detailed policies and procedures that clearly outline what managers, supervisors and employees are supposed to do when an incident occurs. Among those considerations are:

  • All employees should be trained on incident response procedures including what to do if they themselves are injured.
  • Designate a person/team who is responsible for accident investigation and root cause analysis.
  • Designate a person who is responsible for maintaining communication with the injured employee and their family.
  • Establish a safety committee to review results and implement preventative actions with clear levels of accountability.
  • Safety plans and process should be part of every employee’s orientation and the company’s risk management program.

Report incidents quickly

Timeliness is key. Report incidents within 24 to 48 hours at the most.

Focus on prevention, not finding fault

When conducting investigations, look for ways to prevent the incident from happening again. For example, was the employee wearing the necessary safety gear?

Employee orientations should always include an explanation of the safety requirements of the job. Identify any required safety equipment or clothing such as protective goggles or non-slip footwear, and ensure the employee is equipped with all safety essentials before his or her first day on the job.

Communication is key

Consistently communicating care and compassion to an injured worker is a key component to building a superior safety culture in any organization. Best practice is to maintain regular communications with an employee who is unable to work. Check-ins should take place at least weekly and continue throughout the employee’s recovery period and, if required, following a release to modified duty.

Infrequent or inadequate communications can lead to delays when managing workers’ compensation claims, impede the progress of an employee’s recovery and increase the ultimate cost of the workers’ comp claim itself. Poor communication can also spur a lack of trust between the employer and the injured worker, which is never a good thing and can lead to ongoing performance issues down the road.

Ultimately, the companies that devote time and careful attention to workplace safety issues and focus on building an exceptional employee experience at every touch point will see the best results.