Foundation of Injury Prevention

1. Executive Commitment. Management commitment provides the motivating force and the resources for implementing, organizing and controlling activities within an organization. Without consistent and genuinely concerned support and/or participation of top management it is difficult (if not impossible), to build or sustain a solid foundation for workplace safety and injury prevention. When it comes to the ultimate success of Musculoskeletal Disorder (MSD) Injury Prevention, it is critical (for a strong foundation) that management is fully aligned in the entire process. Individual views and perceptions (perhaps department heads, managers/supervisors, even the workforce) vary greatly and may easily prevent real, lasting progress from occurring. A true commitment is required by all, most importantly at the Executive level!

2. Administration and Supervision. Well administered safety and injury prevention programs, along with adequate supervision on the front line are essential foundations for preventing accidents, injuries, and illnesses. It is necessary for Leaders and Supervisors to be educated and trained in injury prevention concepts, beyond the essentials provided to employees, if they are to be successful. Employees must trust in their supervisors and often find it difficult to embrace feedback, consider change or even follow directions, unless the person communicating with them has the same or more knowledge and experience in any given situation. Also, Leaders must, “walk the talk” themselves; this is a critical component for credibility with the workforce!

3. Safety Committee. Provide adequate authority and resources to the safety committee for change implementation and to perform accident investigations which have substance. Motivate them to “listen” to employee input and then make safety and injury prevention a focal point of employee activities. Ensure that safety committee agendas and reports are distributed (broadcast), or at least readily available to every employee. Pre-shift tailgates are a great place to communicate committee findings.

4. Employee Involvement. No matter how committed your management team is to safety, you won’t achieve the desired results without employee involvement on an individual, work group, and safety committee level. Active employee participation and engagement in safety and injury prevention programs ensure a safer, prevention-based workplace. Employee involvement provides the means through which workers develop and express, (via their behaviors and communications), their personal commitment to workplace safety and prevention.

5. Hazard Identification. Hazard anticipation and identification, are cornerstones of workplace safety and the prevention of workplace injuries. Hazard identification, (through job and task analysis as well as risk assessments), is the first step in eliminating or controlling hazards. This is a critical element in building the foundation for a strong, safe, and injury-free workplace. You can’t fix what you don’t see or know about! For a truly safe workplace and to develop a sustainable Culture of Prevention, you must go beyond specific requirements of the law and address all hazards. With our system, this phase is where we are able to develop the relationship and trust with your workforce, prior to training.

6. Hazard Prevention and Control. The elimination of hazards is a critical part of foundational development. This is not always possible, in these instances hazards may be controlled instead. This is achieved through comprehensive training, engineering, and administrative control solutions and PPE.

7. Comprehensive Education and Training Solutions. Meaningful and effective education and training prevents incidents, injuries, and accidents. Training also builds competent, confident workers who understand risk and hazards and know how to: apply immediate countermeasures and work safely and without injury, in every situation. We have found that the lack of effective (operative word) education and training may set the stage for the whole structure of workplace safety and injury prevention to fail. You simply cannot have a safe, injury-free workplace without a strong, ongoing education and training program. This element must be a large part of the Injury Prevention foundation of every organization.

8. Positive Reinforcement. Safe, prevention-based work practices and safety performance in general, must be encouraged via daily awareness, encouragement, and positive feedback. For training to be most effective and to achieve lasting behavioral change in employees and their leaders, positive reinforcement is best communicated on a 4 to 1, (four positive to one negative), basis. This type of reinforcement is the most effective way to ensure positive and lasting changes with: perceptions, habits, behaviors, and the efficient use of postures with every member of your organization.

9. Effective Discipline Process. Breaking safety rules is not an option in a safe workplace. Boundaries must be put into place to: prevent injuries, accidents, un-safe acts and risky behaviors, to ensure positive outcomes. If one employee breaks a rule, others may follow. If need be, rules should be enforced with progressive discipline. “Positive reinforcement” is always recommended, as discipline rarely produces positive results.

10. Planning and Evaluation. These foundations must be ongoing and focused toward the continual improvement of workplace safety and prevention-based behaviors.

11. Return To Work Program. An effective procedure for reintroducing employees injured on the job, is the final foundational element. This element is easily overlooked. The failure to return employees back to work safely and in a timely manner may weaken the entire structure of your safety and injury prevention programs and may lead to re-injury, higher Workers’ compensation costs, and disability claims.