When you run a business, no matter the size of your team, it is your responsibility to do everything you can to keep your workers safe from harm. While you might think that only people working in the “riskier” industries, such as construction, agriculture, transportation, forestry, and manufacturing, might have something to worry about, the fact is that workplace injuries can and do occur in any industry.
In fact, many office employees actually end up with injuries caused on the job each year. According to a survey completed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were close to 3 million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers in 2014. While this number is a reduction on previous statistics, it’s clear that workers across the country still face a variety of risks when they’re completing their jobs.
If you need to know how to keep your staff safe each day, and your business less at risk of being sued and having to deal with employees off sick, read on for some handy tips that you can follow today.
Common Workplace Safety Issues
First up, it’s important to be aware of some of the most safety issues that crop up in the workplace. When it comes to the injuries that are seen most often, it is head, neck, or back problems due to falls, slips, and trips. Many people each year hurt themselves because of floor surfaces being too wet, slippery, or cluttered, or because they are completing tasks unsafely at heights. It is also common for employees to be injured when picking up or moving items which are too heavy or bulky, or to get hurt when doing other manual handling tasks.
Strains, sprains, and breaks of body parts such as arms, wrists, legs, and ankles are also a common occurrence at work. Lots of people get injured because they’re hit by falling objects (such as pieces of equipment, boxes, vehicles, or rigging). These types of injuries also happen when workers try to pull, push, or otherwise move items that are at awkward angles or located in cramped spaces.
Repetitive motion injuries are another type of issue that lead to workers needing time off work. Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), in particular, and similar muscular problems are the most obvious types of injuries in this category. They tend to come about when workers complete repetitive motions for hours on end, such as writing, typing, or using jackhammers and other vibrating machinery. Repetitive motion injuries typically occur in the muscles and tendons of the body (in particular the arms, hands, and neck), but can also cause further issues down the track, such as extreme chronic pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and even vision issues.
How to Reduce Risks of Injury
There are multiple things you can do to protect yourself and your team in the workplace. For example, it is vital that you keep factories, warehouses, offices, cars, and other work areas clean, tidy, and free of hazards. Encourage employees to always work safely, whether at heights or when lifting or moving items; and remind them to take regular breaks to rest and stretch.
Workers should be instructed in the proper methods of lifting and handling things, and be given the correct ergonomic equipment to use. Mechanical aids, such as forklifts and wheelbarrows, should also be on hand whenever required, and equipment should be serviced regularly and replaced when no longer safe.
Responsibilities of Businesses
Businesses have legal responsibilities when it comes to keeping workers protected. If a worker is hurt or falls ill, and the cause is found to stem from the workplace (and is not due to the fault of the employee), then that person has the right to make a personal injury claim for compensation. That staff member may decide to seek advice from a personal injury attorney in San Antonio, Santa Barbara, San Diego, or wherever else they’re based, and could end up pursuing legal action.
To protect your business from potential liability, there are a few steps to take. You need to do everything possible to ensure the working environment isn’t hazardous. Be wary of slippery surfaces, toxic chemicals, falling items, untidy spaces, unsafe vehicles and equipment, and any other hazards that could be relevant for your business. Machinery, tools, vehicles, wiring, electrical items, and the like should be inspected often to check for faults or wear and tear; and first-aid kits must always be on-hand for workers.
If any injuries occur onsite, you need to keep detailed records. Write up an incident report so that you have all the necessary information if required, such as:
- The date, time, and location of an accident
- The names and accounts of injured employees and any witnesses to the event
- The conditions of the environment where the injury occurred
- Relevant events leading up to the accident
- Details of the harm caused to workers, and any damage that may have occurred to business equipment or the premises.