A workplace injury or fatality in a public sector environment is by definition a risk management failure. All municipal, county or other publically-funded organizations should make safety a priority. Injuries and damage cause increased insurance costs which reduce flexibility in an already tight budget.
If you think safety won’t fit in to your tight budget, consider the financial ramifications of a fatality:
- The Missouri Department of Labor investigates public sector on-the-job deaths and submits recommendations. Their findings are discoverable and could be used in a wrongful death lawsuit.
- Wrongful death lawsuits are common when the employee’s immediate family determines that an unsafe condition led to death of their loved one. These types of lawsuits have led to millions of dollars in penalties.
Protecting your municipality and your employees is possible because accidents don’t just happen—workplace injuries and fatalities are predictable and preventable. Making safety a part of your municipality’s culture starts with the following practices:
Develop or update written safety rules. Focus your rules on your greatest exposures such as driving, seat belt use, trenches and excavation, fall protection or confined spaces. Explain the safety rules to every employee and require their signature annually. Key safety rules include seat belt policy, post-offer new hire and post-injury drug and alcohol screening program.
Commitment from management. Remember that safety rules that aren’t enforced are of little value. Develop a progressive disciplinary action policy to help enforce your safety rules. It is also important to reward employees who are working safely.
Routine safety meetings. Safety expectations must be reviewed. Review incidents that have occurred in other municipalities. Remember to document attendance and the topic of each meeting.
Inspect work areas, vehicles and facilities on a regular basis. Find problems before they cause injuries to your employees. Involve employees and management in a self-inspection program.
Taking the time to implement a safety program in your municipality is one of the most cost effective moves you can make. The return on investment from a safety program includes greater production, higher morale and controlling insurance costs. Implement or refresh your program today.
WorkSAFE Center is here to help whether you’re just getting started with a safety program or looking for ways to make yours complete, check out our safety tutorial specifically designed to meet the needs of a municipality.