What are Some Work Safety Tips for the New Year?January 14, 2021
A new year signifies opportunities for improvement, both personal and professional. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis introduced new challenges for both businesses and workers, including those related to work safety. With 2,836 work-related fatalities and approximately 2.8 million nonfatal injuries and occupational illnesses reported to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in 2019 alone, workplace safety remains a vital concern. Employers and employees are therefore urged to make safety in the workplace a priority by implementing some safety tips for the new year.
Workers who have been injured on the job or who have developed an occupational illness are encouraged to contact an experienced Workers’ Compensation lawyer for assistance.
How can I Make Workplace Safety a Priority in 2021?
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (the Act), employers have a duty to provide workers with a safe place to do their jobs. The workplace must be free from recognized hazards and must comply with the Act’s standards, rules, and regulations. By adhering to OHSA requirements and recommendations, employers can reduce the number of accidents, injuries, illnesses, and deaths at their work site. Employees must also do their part to promote an effective safety culture at work, following the rules and safety protocols is a crucial part of maintaining a safe workplace.
How can My Employer Improve Workplace Safety?
The past year’s safety record is perhaps the best place to start when it comes to improving workplace safety. Evaluating where, when, and how accidents occurred during the previous year can provide employers with insight into how they can prevent similar ones from happening again in the new year. Some documents that may be helpful include the following:
- Report of Injury forms. OSHA requires employees to report all work-related injuries, illnesses, or near-miss events by completing an Employee’s First Report of Injury Form. This form includes valuable details for employers looking to improve workplace safety, such as why the accident occurred and what could have been done to prevent it in the first place. Supervisors’ Incident Investigation Reports may also provide insight into why unsafe conditions existed or which unsafe acts people performed.
- Hazard assessments. OSHA reports that one of the main causes of workplace injuries, illnesses, and incidents is the failure to identify hazards. Employers are therefore encouraged to identify and assess hazards as an ongoing part of the company’s safety and health program. The new year is an opportune time to look at the workplace with a fresh perspective to identify any hazards that were previously missed.
- Annual safety reports. Many employers are required to keep a record of serious work-related injuries and illnesses. Each year, they must post a summary of the injuries and illnesses recorded during the previous year to comply with OSHA record-keeping requirements. These annual reports help employers, workers, and OSHA better understand workplace hazards, and which protections to implement to reduce and eliminate those hazards.
What are Some Common Workplace Injuries?
Being aware of the most common workplace injuries helps employers reduce the risk of injury and death for workers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), some of the most common injuries and illnesses involving days away from work in 2019 include the following:
- Sprains and strains
- Cuts and lacerations
- Puncture wounds
- Bruises and contusions
- Heat burns
- Chemical burns and corrosions
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Multiple traumatic injuries
Common types of accidents in the workplace that can lead to such injuries include these events:
- Slip and falls. Employers should ensure that all tripping hazards such as electrical wires are removed from the walkways and that walking surfaces are not slippery. Additionally, certain employers are required to provide employees with adequate fall protection equipment to prevent falls from heights.
- Caught in/between or struck-by injuries. Employees may become caught in/between or struck by machinery or moving parts. All machinery should have the proper protective guards, and employees must be trained on safe handling and operation.
- Fires and explosions. The hazard communication standard is frequently among the top 10 most commonly cited OSHA violations. Employers should train workers on how to handle hazardous materials and on what to do in an emergency.
- Transportation. Those who drive for work or who operate heavy machinery may become injured or cause injury if they are not properly trained. Traffic construction zones and construction sites are common locations of serious workplace accidents and injuries.
- Confined spaces. Workers may become fatally injured when trapped in a confined space. There may not be enough oxygen, certain chemicals may explode, or poisonous gases may build up in the confined space. Employers should refer to OSHA standards when working in confined spaces such as manholes, sewer digestors, and silos.
- Violence. OSHA reports that workplace violence is a growing problem. Employers should evaluate their policies on sexual harassment and violence to help protect employees in the new year.
Are There Workplace Safety Resolutions I Should Follow for the Upcoming Year?
Workplace safety resolutions will vary according to employer, industry, and location, as well as other factors. However, there are some safety tips that employers should consider when setting workplace safety resolutions for the new year, including the following suggestions:
- Evaluate safety trainings. Employers can look over the safety trainings conducted in the prior year to see how they can be improved. Were all safety issues adequately covered, or is there anything else that needs to be addressed?
- Review the company’s health and safety policy. The company’s safety and health policy may need to be updated for the new year. Employers should review their policy to ensure that it is promoting an effective safety culture. Do employees feel comfortable voicing concerns and participating in promoting workplace safety?
- Check personal protective equipment (PPE) and other gear. Employers must make sure that workers have the equipment they need to perform their job safely. Any worn, broken, or damaged gear should be fixed or replaced. The OSHA respiratory protection standard and the personal protective and life-saving equipment standard, including eye and face protection, were among the top 10 most violated OSHA standards for fiscal year 2019.
- Report unsafe conditions. Employees can help keep the workplace safe by reporting any unsafe conditions to their supervisor immediately. The sooner the condition is reported, the sooner it can be remedied. Employers should encourage employees to speak up regarding workplace safety and health issues.
- Stay up to date. Equipment and technology are constantly being improved; employers should keep abreast of all these updates to improve workplace safety. Additionally, OSHA standards may change as new hazards are identified and solutions are identified.
- Conduct regular workplace inspections. Employers should look for ways that the workplace can be improved. For example, workplace ergonomics is an important consideration; musculoskeletal disorders and repetitive stress injuries are some of the most common bases of Workers’ Compensation claims.
- Encourage workers to take breaks. Fatigue is a common cause of, or contributing factor to, injuries in the workplace, especially for those who work long hours or irregular shifts. Employers should encourage workers to take regular breaks to reduce the risk of accidents and injuries in the workplace.
- Comply with industry standards. In addition to the Act’s standards, rules, and regulations, OSHA also may issue guidance or recommendations for the general and specific industries. Complying with industry standards and following OSHA recommendations can help improve workplace safety in the upcoming year.
- Implement or improve on an existing safety and health program. OSHA encourages all employers to adopt a safety and health program. Once that program is established, it should be evaluated regularly to evaluate its effectiveness. OSHA provides a self-evaluation tool to help employers identify potential deficiencies in their program.
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If you were injured in a work accident, contact the Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton for expert assistance. Our experienced legal team will fight to get you the benefits you deserve. We will review any case, help our clients receive the compensation they need, appeal denied claims, and navigate a difficult situation in which their employer or the insurance company engages a lawyer. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 844-556-4LAW (4529) or contact us online. Located in Baltimore, we serve clients throughout Maryland.