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Improving Workplace Safety with The 10-Step Accident Prevention Plan

All employers who want to reduce work-related injuries and improve workplace safety can benefit from implementing this plan.

This plan is the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, Division of Safety and Hygiene’s primary component of many of their cost-saving programs including Group Rating, Premium Discount Program Plus, Drug-Free Workplace Program, and Drug-Free EZ. While every dealer participating in our Ohio Group Rating Plan has already been instructed on the "how-to" of this Plan, we hope this timely overview will help keep you on track with your promotion of safe work habits and your on-going safety policy.

1. Visible, Active Senior Management Leadership: Senior managers, including the top executive on-site, must model safety behavior. Senior executives can demonstrate their concern and support for safety and health in a variety of ways. Leadership examples may include: the authorization of resources for accident prevention, participation in safety meetings, memos that provide direction and support, walking tours intended to identify hazards or unsafe practices, annual program evaluation reviews, video presentations, holding subordinate members of management accountable for accident prevention activities, and so on.

2. Employee Involvement and Recognition: Both management and employees must actively participate in the safety and health management process. Employees should be afforded the opportunity to participate in the safety program, in decision-making and problem-solving. Participation in focus groups, committees, accident investigations, safety audits and conducting safety training are examples of employee involvement processes. In addition, a program to identify and formally recognize employees for excellence in accident prevention should be established. Suggested criteria might include employees whose performance is consistently high in safety and health, those who suggest or make safety improvements, or employees who take on special safety projects.

3. Disability Management: Employers must establish a post-injury or disability management policy and procedure to help injured or ill employees rehabilitate and return to work as quickly as possible. Components of the disability management procedure should include at a minimum: educating employees about workers’ compensation policies and procedures before an accident occurs; establishing and communicating the procedures for obtaining medical treatment; reporting accidents/illnesses immediately to the supervisor; regular supervisory communications with the injured employee while convalescing; investigating all accidents promptly to determine causes and taking corrective measures. Incorporated in the disability management procedure should be a modified duty program that allows employees to return to work before reaching maximum medical improvement.

4. Regular Communications: Regular communications on matters affecting the safety and health of employees must be included in each organization’s overall approach to managing safety and health. Regular communications must include written and verbal feedback to all employees on their accident prevention performance and at least quarterly feedback to employees on how well the safety and health program is functioning. Videos, memos, bulletin boards, staff meetings, and general meetings are additional suggested communications methods.

5.Timely Notification of Accidents: Employers must report accidents to the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, as required. For example, lost time cases must be reported within seven days of being notified of the accident by the injured or ill employee.

6. Safety and Health Program Coordination: An individual must be designated as the Risk Management Coordinator and given responsibility and authority to coordinate or facilitate the organization’s overall safety and health approach for accident/illness prevention. Duties could include identifying loss prevention and safety training needs, assisting management in the implementation of the safety program, identifying and communicating new safety and health requirements, compiling accident or illness related records, tracking progress on safety-related projects, and suggesting additional safe work practices. An employer may choose to delegate these functions to more than one person. A smaller employer may assume the duties or delegate them to a manager. In either case, the Risk Management Coordinator must attend at least one safety and health seminar/course each year.

7. Orientation and Training: It is up to each organization to identify the specific training needs of its employees and to see to it that orientation and training needs and requirements are addressed. Each employer must develop a written safety orientation and training program that identifies training needs and objectives. The program will be comprised of two components: an orientation component and a training component. All new employees must participate in a safety orientation. Orientation will, at a minimum, inform employees about medical treatment procedures, how and when to report injuries/illnesses, use and care of personal protective equipment, actions to take in case of emergency, how to report unsafe practices or conditions, and return to work procedures. The safety training component must include safe work practices for specific job tasks, use of machinery and tools, ergonomic risk factors, chemical hazards, etc. All training documents must include the date, topics covered, instructor’s name, and the names of employees attending the training session. Each employee attending the training must sign the documentation form.

8. Written and Communicated Safe Work Practices: Guidance for employees in the form of written safe work practices is important for a clear understanding of job requirements and procedures. Both general and job-specific safe work practices must be identified and published. General safe work practices might include: housekeeping, personal protective equipment, first aid procedures, use of ergonomic principles, respiratory protection, lockout/tagout, confined space entry, etc. Job-specific safe work practices apply to operations and tasks that involve recognized hazards and risks associated with specific job functions and procedures. Employees must be provided a copy of the general safe work practices. Job-specific safe work practices must be posted or be readily available in the work area. All employees should indicate that they understand and will follow the safe work practices by signing a statement to that effect.

9. Written Safety & Health Policy: A written policy, signed by the top executive, must be developed that expresses the organization’s values and commitment to workplace safety and health. It must identify management, supervisor and employee responsibilities. The policy must also address returning injured or ill employees to work at the earliest opportunity. The written policy must be distributed to all employees at the time of employment and reviewed with them annually.

10. Recordkeeping and Data Analysis: Organizations must compile occupational accident and illness-related information in order to look for trends and causes. Timely feedback on accident causes and trends for managers and supervisors is important for identifying causes, and tracking improvement. Providing claims information status reports to supervisors is also important to help them remain in touch with the status of off-work employees and to assist with the return of employees to work.

For more information: You can obtain more information about this Plan and other risk management resources on the BWC website, www.ohiobwc.com.

-- Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation, 1993