In most cases, workplace accidents are unintentional and unfortunate events. However, almost all of them can be avoided when employers implement the right safety precautions and workers know what to do in order to prevent injuring their bodies while performing job duties.
Below, we discuss some simple yet effective and necessary steps that workers and their employers should take to reduce the risk of workplace accidents.
When it comes to protecting their workforce, employers should always put safety at the forefront. While the specific criteria for a “safe” work environment will vary depending on the industry and physical jobs before performed, here are some things for employers to consider:
Incorporate a Safety and Wellness Program
The foundation for a safe workplace starts by taking preventative measures to reduce the risk of work injuries. Workplaces across all industries can incorporate safety and wellness programs specific to their unique environments. Such programs can include a variety of key initiatives, from identifying and eliminating potential workplace risks to providing all employees with monthly health and nutrition tips.
Cultivating a safe and healthy workplace involves constantly educating employees on safe work practices and techniques. It may also be beneficial to include trainings on body mechanics (i.e., proper posture while sitting, proper lifting techniques, stretching techniques) to help ensure that employees of all types have a reduced risk of sustaining injuries at work.
Understand Ergonomic Risk Exposures
Ergonomics is the process of designing, arranging, or modifying workplaces or equipment that fit to a worker’s particular job function, ultimately increasing both efficiency and safety. Exposure to any ergonomic risk is a common cause of workplace injuries and time off work. As an employer, it’s important to understand what economic risks your workers face and how to help find a solution. Some of the most common activities that are caused by lack of proper ergonomic equipment include:
- Awkward posture
- Improper bending or lifting
- Forceful exertions
- Repetitive motions
- Static or strained postures
Review and Respond
As we mentioned, every workplace is different from the next. Ultimately, preventing work injuries at a unique job site requires management to pay attention to common accidents, review how and why these accidents occur, and develop strategies that combat future instances from happening in the future.
While employers do have a responsibility to keep workers safe, employees can also do their part in reducing the chance of sustaining injuries themselves and keeping their work environment safe for others.
Use Proper Lifting Techniques
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about 25% of all workers’ compensation claims are the result of back injuries or back pain. Ultimately, knowing how to properly lift equipment at work can drastically reduce the chance of sustaining a back injury caused by lifting.
Before attempting to lift anything, always utilize safe techniques:
- Warm-up and stretch your legs and back
- Be aware of the weight of the object
- Ask for a second person to help you if it’s too heavy
- Make sure the pathway you are lifting on is dry and clear of debris
- Utilize lifting equipment, such as cranes or forklifts
Use Proper Posture at Work
A traditional “desk job” may seem like risk-free work, but this is not necessarily the case. Many workers whose jobs require them to be sitting for extended periods of time are at an increased risk of developing certain conditions that impact long-term health and productivity, such as:
- Chronic pain
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Back strains
- Musculoskeletal disorders and injuries
- Other types of repetitive stress injuries (RSI)
Maintaining proper posture at work and having the right ergonomic equipment can increase your quality of life and work while decreasing the risk of certain work-related conditions. Here are some things to remember when you’re working at a desk:
- Place your monitor at eye level so your head doesn’t tilt or drop down
- Rest your feet flat on the ground instead of crossing your legs or ankles
- Bring your shoulders flat and keep your back pressed against the chair
- Try to use a lumbar support tool that helps keep your back straight and prevent slouching
Keep Workplaces Clean
Most people don’t think of cleanliness as a risk to workers, but a space that is not maintained can cause confusion and difficulty maneuvering. This can make workers more prone to hazards and ultimately lead to more work injuries. Whether you work in a manufacturing warehouse or in an office cubicle, ensure that the area around you remains free of clutter and tripping hazards.
Report Hazards to Management
Workers are entitled to a clean and hazard-free workplace. If you are on the job, it’s important that you report any potential hazards, including unsafe areas or practices, to your supervisor or management so that you and your coworkers stay safe. This way, your employer can take the necessary steps to mitigate the problem. Some common types of workplace hazards include:
- Physical hazards, including wet floors, loud noises, or defective equipment
- Ergonomic hazards, such as those affecting the musculoskeletal system or cause repetitive movement
- Chemical hazards, including those that can harm employees
- Biological hazards, such as certain infectious diseases
If you are worried about how your company will react to your reporting of hazards, know that you are legally protected from employer retaliation, including being terminated or receiving unfair treatment.
Know Your Rights as an Injured Worker
At The Law Offices of Nathaniel F. Hansford, we are firm believers that the hardworking people of Atlanta injured or harmed on the job should not have to pay out-of-pocket for their expenses simply because they were doing their job.
Our firm has been serving our local communities of Atlanta and the surrounding areas for over 20 years. If you need help pursuing benefits for your work-related injury or condition, our dedicated workers’ compensation attorneys are ready to hear your story and fight on your behalf.
Contact our firm at (770) 629-9321 to get started on your case today.