Take care of the people who work in your practice.
You are often so concerned with addressing the well-being of your patients that you may overlook the safety and wellness of yourself and your staff. Employees are critical to the success of any business. Therefore, employee health should be an integral part of your office’s business strategy.
Workplace injuries not only impact the injured employee but can also have a ripple effect on the business overall.
Work-related injuries can be costly in terms of out-of-pocket expenses, lost productivity, and potentially higher insurance premiums. When employees are hurt and unable to perform their duties, operations can be strained as others need to fill the gaps. This may involve overtime pay, temporary workers, or in some cases hiring a new full-time employee.
You can protect your practice and your employees by proactively implementing measures to improve workplace safety and wellness. Preventive programs can set up safeguards and result in both operational and cost benefits through fewer workplace accidents, increased employee retention, and better productivity. You can enhance wellness in-house by following these guidelines.
Review the risks
Creating a safer workplace begins with identifying and documenting potential hazards and tasks that could lead to an injury. It also involves instituting proper safety procedures before employees use any equipment or materials. Documentation is especially important because it establishes a record that can be referenced in the event of an OSHA inspection or insurance audit.
You should start with yourself. Many of the manual techniques used in chiropractic therapy, such as spinal manipulation, can put stress on your joints, wrists, and lower back over time. You are also susceptible to repetitive motion injuries, as well as some of the most common but often overlooked workplace safety threats, including trips and falls from slippery floors or surface changes.
Many of these injuries can be prevented by taking simple preventive measures. For instance, you can use table-assisted techniques or instrument adjusting as an alternative to the high- velocity, low-amplitude (HVLA) thrust for spinal manipulation. Requiring all employees to wear rubber-soled shoes at work can help prevent accidents.
Office support employees are subject to their own unique potential risks. A growing amount of research shows that increased time spent sitting and related health problems are taking years off lives. According to a recent survey by the insurance firm Employers, nearly 30 percent of small-business owners said their employees typically remain seated for more than an hour at a time. Workers in sedentary jobs are at a heightened risk of obesity and other ailments. Employees with more sedentary duties should be encouraged to take regular breaks, increase their movement, and rest their eyes.
Staff members who primarily work on computers should have monitor stands to ensure an ergonomically correct position and make sitting at work stations more comfortable. The Employers survey found that two out of five small businesses do not provide monitor stands to improve the posture and comfort of these employees.
Head to the train station
According to a study by Humana and the National Small Business Association (NSBA), 93 percent of small businesses say their employees’ physical and mental health is important. More than 50 percent say it is “extremely important.”
Therefore, a good first step is to document safety policies and procedures in writing. Making safety a fundamental component of your business requires training and empowering employees.
Safety training should be part of each new employee’s orientation and reinforced routinely (on an annual basis at a minimum). Training sessions should also be held whenever new processes, procedures, or equipment are introduced into the workplace. These sessions should cover how to identify hazards, prevent accidents, and respond to injuries.
Management must remain vigilant and insist employees follow safety policies. OSHA can fine businesses significant amounts of money for safety violations, so safety enforcement is another proactive cost-control measure for your organization.
Routine workplace safety audits, safety meetings, and annual safety training sessions are effective ways to enforce the rules. Business leaders must also evaluate their programs at least annually, or whenever new or previously unknown hazards are discovered.
Taking steps to increase the overall safety and wellness of your employees needn’t be expensive, but the investment can offer significant returns.
Direct connections have been made between wellness and healthcare costs, as well as between workplace safety and workers’ compensation insurance claims and costs. When employers and employees commit to making wellness and safety a priority, they can expect to see expenses decline.
As such, safety and wellness should be intrinsic core values for all businesses. When your practice protects your employees, everyone benefits. The more you recognize this, the better off you and your staff will be.
DAVID QUEZADA is vice president of loss Control Services for Employers, America’s small- business insurance specialist, which offers workers’ compensation insurance and services. In this role, Quezada has helped many businesses take a strategic approach to risk management to improve their workplace safety and protect their most important assets—their employees. He can be contacted through firstname.lastname@example.org or employers.com.