Every job comes with potential risks and hazards. To address workplace injury, employers need to ensure the right programs are in place to prevent accidents in the workplace.
According to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics report, a total of 2.9 million nonfatal workplace injuries were reported in 2015.
Transportation-related incidents 5.7%
Falls, slips and trips 28%
Struck by Objects or Equipment 24.3%
Exposure to harmful Substances or Environments 4.7%
Who is liable for a workplace injury or accident?
With the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act in the 1970s, the federal government put laws into place to protect workers from unsafe hazards in their work environment. This act placed much of the responsibility on the employer, outlining that an employer is responsible for any employee accident that happens on company property, while conducting work activities, during breaks and lunch, and while employees may be offsite for work-related activities, such as travel, workshops, etc.
If you’ve been injured in the workplace, usually your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance will cover medical bills. Although this is the general rule, there are situations in which you may be able to sue for damages caused by your injuries. For example:
- If you were injured by a defective product or toxic substance.
- If you were injured due to your employer’s grossly negligent or intentional conduct.
- If your employer does not carry workers’ compensation insurance
- If a third party caused your injury.
It’s important for injured workers to speak with a personal injury attorney to understand their rights.
According to OSHA, the Top 10 safety violations in the workplace are:
- Poor or Lack of a Fall Protection Plan
- Lack of control and procedures for handling hazardous chemicals.
- Failure to Protect construction workers for falls and falling objects while working on or near scaffolding.
- Poor or Lack of protection program for respiratory hazards
- Poor or Lack of training in the control of hazardous energy during servicing and maintenance of machines and equipment. (Also known as Lockout/Tagout)
- Improper Use of Powered Hand Trucks and Forklifts.
- The improper use of or defective structure of ladders.
- The improper anchoring or guarding of machinery to protect employees from hazards during operation.
- The improper grounding of electrical equipment, wiring and/or insulation.
- The improper use of or guarding of live electrical systems or parts.
What are the primary causes of workplace safety violations?
The National Safety Council has a team of consultants who travel the world conducting safety audits in workplaces. What they commonly see as the cause of safety violations is:
- Lack of risk assessment
- Poor or Lack of Permit, Certification or Training
- Poor housekeeping
- A Rush to finish the work.
- Unfamiliarity with the equipment, procedure of substance.
- Lack of Supervision or Accountability.
How to prevent workplace accidents
That old saying “ An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” pretty much sums it up. Every organization should “PTP”:
Plan-“Failure to plan is a plan for failure.” Management should consult with safety consultants to develop appropriate safety programs to avoid workplace hazards.
Train– Employees should receive appropriate initial training and periodic refresher training on safety procedures and hazard recognition. Supervisors need to monitor employees to be sure they are implementing safety procedures according to the established safety programs.
Provide Personal protective equipment–Employers are required to provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to workers for their safety and protection. Just issuing the gear, however, is not enough. Employers need to purchase the correct type and sizes of gear and train employees in how to properly put on/use/take off and store the gear. PPE should be regularly inspected and damaged PPE should be removed from service. Supervisors need to make sure employees are wearing/utilizing PPE by stressing its benefits for protection.
If you or a loved on has been involved in a serious workplace accident, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Folger Law Firm to determine your rights.