Staying healthy and safe at work is important. No matter what your job, it is important to reduce your risks of injury and illness at work. No employee is invincible from getting hurt and proper awareness is key to avoid potential risks. It’s vital for both employee and employer to take precautions in order to create a safe environment. Most workplace safety tips are a simple, easy, and extremely effective way to keep yourself and other staff members safe during the course of the day. They are easy to implement and very simple to remember but can protect against catastrophic accidents.
According to The National Safety Council, every 7 seconds, a worker is injured on the job. These numbers are staggering, and the worst part is that each one is preventable. According to OHSHA, 5,147 workers died on the job in 2017. Out of 4,674 worker fatalities in private industry in calendar year 2017, 971 or 20.7% were in construction — that is, one in five worker deaths last year were in construction. The leading causes of private sector worker deaths (excluding highway collisions) in the construction industry were falls, followed by struck by object, electrocution, and caught-in/between. These “Fatal Four” were responsible for more than half (59.9%) the construction worker deaths in 2017. Eliminating the Fatal Four would save 582 workers’ lives in America every year.
But what about nonfatal injuries? There were approximately 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers in 2017, which occurred at a rate of 2.8 cases per 100 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. Private industry employers reported nearly 45, 800 fewer nonfatal injury and illness cases in 2017 compared to a year earlier, according to estimates from the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses.
The good news is that worker injuries and illnesses are down-from 10.9 incidents per 100 workers in 1972 to 2.8 per 100 in 2017.
Although construction is the highest risk for injury, that doesn’t mean other jobs are immune from accidents. As you sit there at your desk sipping your coffee and finishing up your reports, chances are you might not be thinking about office injury statistics. Even though it’s true that working in an office environment may pose less safety risks than those working in manufacturing, law enforcement, or health care environments, office jobs come with their own unique risks.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) cites falling as the most common office related accident. In fact, the CDC found that office workers are 2 to 2.5 times more likely to suffer an injury from a fall than non-office workers. The most common causes of office falls include:
- Slipping on wet floors
- Reaching for something while sitting in an unstable chair
- Tripping over loose carpeting, electrical cords, an open file drawer, or objects in walkways
- Using a chair instead of a ladder
- Poor lighting/visibility
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, “Adapting tasks, workstations, tools, and equipment to fit the worker can help reduce physical stress on a worker’s body and eliminate many potentially serious, disabling work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Each year, MSDs account for more than $15 billion in workers’ compensation costs.
Conditions that can lead to MSD problems include:
- Repetitive movements that increase pressure on nerves and irritate tendons.
- Sitting in awkward positions, or straining neck to look at a computer screen that is too high or too low.
- Static postures and lack of breaks
Homicide is the fourth-leading cause of fatal occupational injuries in the United States. In fact, of the 4,547 fatal workplace injuries that occurred in the U.S. in 2010, 506 were workplace homicides.
If you were hurt on the job, you may be entitled to collect damages. Workers’ comp cases can be complicated. The attorneys and staff of Schulze Law can help you understand your worker’s compensation rights and bring a claim. In some instances, employees are injured at work but that injury is not the fault of their employer. We can help you bring a new worker’s comp claim—as well as appeal a rejection of a previous claim—and also represent you in a third-party lawsuit if your situation supports it.
According to ESafety.com, many of these accidents can been avoided by following these workplace safety tips:
#1 Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Every job site has inherent dangers, whether that’s large, heavy machinery, conveyor belts, or even tripping over items in the office. The best way to keep yourself safe is to be aware of your surroundings. The more familiar you are with your tasks and workplace, the more aware you’ll be of the potential hazards. Knowing your surroundings and being aware of potential hazards will help you and your co-workers avoid unnecessary or dangerous situations.
#2 Keep Correct Posture
“Lift with your legs—not your back!” Keeping correct posture refers to more than just employees who lift things regularly. If you work at a desk, you also need to make sure you have good posture to avoid back problems, neck pain, and even carpal tunnel. Of course, if you do have to lift things at work, be sure to keep your back straight and lift with your legs. And if you ever need to lift something you think might be too heavy, take a few extra seconds to find the mechanical aid that can help you, or lift with a partner. Whether it’s a forklift or a wheelbarrow, your back is worth those extra few seconds.
#3 Take Regular Breaks
It’s important that employees always take their regular breaks. OSHA has put them in place for a reason: tired workers are the most prone to an incident. The more tired you are, the less aware you are of your surroundings, and the more at risk you are for an injury. Take the breaks you’re given on a regular schedule to keep yourself fresh, and try to schedule your more difficult tasks for the beginning of your shift when you’re most alert.
#4 Never Take Shortcuts on Procedures
Workplace procedures exist to keep employees safe, especially those that go along with heavy machinery. It’s important to always use every tool and machine you’re working with according to instruction. Shortcuts lead to injury and aren’t worth the small amount of time they might save you. Be sure you’re always using the right tool for the job, and using it correctly.
#5 Be Aware of New Safety Procedures
When your company purchases a new machine, or even updates training, it’s important to make sure you’re aware of the new safety procedures that go along with those changes. While your employer is responsible for providing the proper training, and your supervisor will make sure you’re assigned to a training time, it’s your responsibility to ensure you understand the new safety procedures and implement them properly before you use any new machines. Be sure to ask questions if you don’t understand a safety procedure.
#6 Keep Emergency Exits Clear
Never place anything in front of an emergency exit door, even if it’s only for a few minutes. While this might sound like a no-brainer, it’s surprising how many ladders, trolley carts, and even forklifts get set in front of emergency exits. What’s more, ensure pathways to equipment emergency shutoffs are clear in case something needs to be powered down immediately.
#7 Report Unsafe Conditions
The only way to stop unsafe conditions from happening is to report them to supervisors as soon as you notice them and help be part of the solution. Your supervisor is legally obligated to provide all employees with a safe working environment, and will take care of any unsafe conditions, but they have to be aware of those conditions to do so. It’s important to always report any hazardous situation or unsafe condition as soon as possible, to keep yourself and other employees safe. Work together to find a solution to prevent the unsafe condition from occurring again in the future.
#8 Always Wear Personal Protective Equipment
Finally, make sure you’re always wearing the personal protective equipment (PPE) provided to you by your employer. Whether it’s something as small as earplugs, or something as large as a chemical suit, this PPE exists for a reason. Wearing the correct PPE for the job you’re performing is just another way to keep you safe from injury.
#9 Stay Sober
Alcohol and drugs account for over 3% of all workplace injuries and fatalities. These substances can reduce the ability to exercise the proper judgment, decrease concentration, and reduce motor skills.
#10 Be Alert and Awake
Being properly rested reduces the likelihood of accidents, improves concentration, and fine motor skills. Being exhausted on the job causes sloppiness which can injury both you and your coworkers.
Were you hurt at work? If you were injured on the job, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ compensation insurance, often referred to as “workers comp”, is a state-mandated program consisting of payments required by law to be made to an employee who is injured or disabled in connection with work. The federal government offers its own workers’ compensation insurance for federal employees, but every individual state has its own workers’ compensation insurance program. It is this insurance that pays for medical treatment regarding injury and illness. In the majority of situations, injured employees receive workers’ compensation insurance, regardless of who was at fault for the injury. Because these workers comp benefits act as a type of insurance, they prevent the employee from suing his or her employer for the injuries covered.
In the state of Massachusetts, the Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA) oversees worker’s compensation claims. The worker’s comp system is in place to ensure that workers are protected if they are injured on the job or contract a work-related illness. Under this system, the Massachusetts General Laws requires all employers to provide worker’s compensation insurance coverage to their employees. To learn more about workers’ comp in the state of Massachusetts, click this link!
If you’ve been injured at work, contact Schulze Law today. The cases involving workers’ comp can be complex and challenging to navigate which is why our experienced attorneys can help. Each individual case is unique and it’s extremely important to have a member of our team review your case and discuss your legal rights and options. We will always fight for the justice you deserve.