Use Science To Curb Workers’ Compensation Costs
Employers of choice provide for the safety, health and welfare of their workers. Doing so increases morale, reduces accidents, cuts costs and fulfills employers’ OSHA general duty to provide a safe workplace.
Safety practitioners realize there are two key components in administering a safety program: 1) recognizing and mitigating accidents before they occur, and 2) preparing and protecting workers if an accident happens. Recognizing, responding to and dealing with accidents is a critical function for employers. Consult with a professional that has expertise in this area can help you with safety, health and welfare via on-staff professionals, stay up-to-date with legal and regulatory knowledge, and provide insight gleaned from a variety of worksites, industries and geographic locations.
Raymond A. Parker, SPHR, Senior Vice President – Human Resource Consulting, notes, “Often employers rely on protecting workers from accidents, such as requiring that they wear gloves and safety belts. These applied prevention tools can reduce injury severity and supplement accident prevention. However, recognizing an accident before it happens and resolving the problem has more value. Recognizing the “red flags” of a dangerous situation can be learned, included in job training, monitored for compliance, and refined.”
“Red flags” can be caused by bad habits, e.g., allowing walkways to become cluttered or blocking exits. One aspect of an effective safety program is correcting bad habits. The chain of events resulting in clutter accumulating often is a series of behaviors. By applying human science and principles of accident prevention, bad behavior can be broken down into discrete parts. Examining and resolving each part enables workers to act to prevent an accident before it happens.
There are four common approaches for breaking habits and thus avoiding accidents. 1) The ABC approach is used effectively to change bad habits. Here “A” = antecedent, “B” = behavior and “C” = consequence. Typically, workers are more attentive to the consequences of a safety situation because they require immediate response. However, by first recognizing and addressing a hazardous antecedent, workers can preclude dangerous behavior and injurious consequences. 2) The Confrontation approach involves facing the negative consequences of behavior. This is exemplified when showing videos of vehicle accidents or presenting accident statistics to sensitize people into recognizing hazards and taking action to avoid injurious outcomes. 3) The Shaping approach encourages workers to change behavior one step at a time. With this approach, publicizing a clutter elimination program, then tackling specific clutter areas, followed by clutter removal in all areas can be effective in changing behavior without being overly intimidating. 4) The fourth approach, Distraction, may be the least effective if workers merely identify an issue and delegate it elsewhere for resolution. The policy to report dangerous situations is fulfilled. However, with the observer’s somewhat passive approach, timely handling may not be accomplished.
Recognizing, responding to and dealing with accidents can be learned behavior to save injury and cost, including workers’ compensation costs.
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