In 2018 alone, more than 15,000 education employees had to take days away from work due to workplace injuries, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Such incidents can present serious issues for school administrators: along with workers’ compensation claims costs, workplace accidents can cause huge indirect expenses such as equipment repairs, replacement employee training, and lost work time while employees are recovering.
To keep your employees safe at work and avoid these serious expenses, your school should develop an accident prevention plan (APP). This proven strategy can protect your workers from common incidents, lower the direct and indirect costs of workplace injuries, and boost morale and productivity. It can ultimately save you and your organization time, money, and headaches.
What is an accident prevention plan?
An accident prevention plan is exactly what it sounds like: a plan to identify, assess, and prevent hazards in your organization. It is a long-term commitment to risk management that involves regular inspection, updates, and preventative actions, constantly evolving to address the risks that your organization faces.
Implementing an APP is shown to have lasting benefits. It can drastically reduce your district’s accidents, protecting your employees and saving your organization massive expenses each year. OSHA estimates that workplace safety programs like APPs can save employers between $4 to $6 for every dollar spent towards active accident prevention.
What is included in an accident prevention plan?
An effective APP equips your school to prevent or mitigate many accidents. It consists of several elements, including the following:
True accident prevention starts at the top. The first step of implementing an APP is to make a public management commitment to creating a safe workplace. This is done through a formal, written statement signed by your district superintendent or college president. Members of the TASB Risk Management Fund’s Workers’ Compensation program can access a premade template for your commitment statement (myTASB login required).
Begin your accident prevention measures by identifying and analyzing the hazards present in your organization. Go over your history of workplace accidents, injuries, and workers’ compensation claims to identify common trends and situations that have led to incidents. Also consider how much your organization spends in response to employee accidents. Observe your work processes to adjust any behaviors that may cause accidents and conduct walkthroughs of your facilities to identify risks in your facilities.
Be sure to record every measure that you take to address accidents in your organization. Always document your training sessions, inspections, and hazard analyses. You should also record near-miss accidents as well, so you can be aware of incidents that have a high chance of occurring and prepare ways to address them. Reliable recordkeeping can help hold you responsible for your accident prevention measures going forward.
Some may be surprised to hear that many accidents in schools involve teachers and administrators, rather than maintenance staff. This is often because administrative employees often don’t receive the same level of training that other workers do. At all levels of work, responsible training is vital to preserve a safe workplace.
You can help mitigate accidents in all levels of your organization by creating a detailed plan for regular safety training that involves all your workgroups--including teaching staff and supervisors. Your training plan must be organized to follow certain thresholds and guidelines, and it should be regularly scheduled and thoroughly documented. Leverage services like SafeSchools and SafeColleges for easy-to-use training solutions, including assignments tailored to specific jobs and help developing training plans.
Safety inspections and audits
You should monitor all your workplaces with safety audits and inspections. Conduct walkthroughs of your facilities with a diverse team, which should include knowledgeable staff along with outside experts who can notice any risks that more familiar employees might gloss over. The goal of a walkthrough is to identify factors that contribute to workplace accidents. For example, if you have had workers’ compensation claims due to slips and falls in your kitchen, walk through it to see if it contains any factors that could cause or contribute to the injury.
Walkthroughs must be documented with checklists, which you can obtain from your Risk Solutions consultant. Work orders should be made after inspections to ensure that appropriate response actions are carried out. There are many ways you can respond to risks you discover: you can increase your training procedures, invest in continuing education programs, or perform maintenance or repairs to reduce risks in your property itself, for example. Effective walkthroughs can be conducted in multiple formats that meet your organization’s safety requirements—in-person, online, or even on paper.
Your plan should describe how often your inspections are, provide guidelines for response procedures for issues that they find, and identify the qualified individuals that should conduct your audits. They should be performed on a consistent schedule so you can keep your workplace safe and prevent any emerging hazards.
Whenever an accident occurs, it is critical to conduct an investigation to identify its causes. An investigation can yield surprising results—if an employee is injured by slipping and falling, the cause may be more complex than simply, “the floor was wet.”
With the help of professionals or subject matter experts, an investigation can determine whether the accident occurred due to a lack of training, improper facilities maintenance, environmental factors, or other factors. Knowing the root causes of an incident will allow you to develop truly effective response strategies that keep your organization safe in the long term.
Revisions and reviews
An APP is not a one-and-done project. It takes time, effort, and lasting commitment. Schedule regular revisions and reviews to ensure that your plan meets the safety needs of your organization today and throughout the year. This is also an opportunity to set safety goals for your school and outline support activities to achieve them.
Help you can trust
Safety might look different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Risk Management Fund’s commitment to protecting Texas schools hasn’t wavered. An accident prevention plan is necessary now more than ever due to the ever-changing nature of safety, and the Fund can help you develop a plan that meets your organization’s needs.
Your regional Risk Solutions consultant can help with every stage of implementing an APP, from walkthroughs to planning to training. Don’t hesitate to contact your consultant for more information.