June Marks National Safety Month May 29, 2020
This June marks National Safety Month. National Safety month is an annual awareness campaign with the primary goal of limiting different kinds of preventable injuries, like ones that happen on our roadways, in our workplaces, and in our homes. Unintentional injuries are one of the leading causes of death in the United States, and the numbers have been steadily increasing for decades. This June, challenge yourself to make just one simple change to improve safety.
2020’s Safety Themes
Every year, National Safety Month tackles a variety of safety topics. This year, the organization is focusing on mental health, ergonomics, the importance of building a safety culture, and driving. Accidental and unintentional injuries can occur in just about any scenario, but knowledge is power. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that from 1997 to 2017, the accidental injury death rate increased by a whopping 40%. To help reverse this concerning trend, learn some general information on this year’s safety topics and what steps you can take to reduce unintentional accidents from happening.
Mental health is a complex and difficult topic, perhaps more now than ever before in light of the Coronavirus outbreak being a stressor for so many people. An unprecedented number of Americans are currently jobless, and for almost every single one of us the daily structure of our lives has changed dramatically. For people who are still working like healthcare providers, emergency responders, and other essential workers, fearing for their own health and the health of their loved ones is a very real concern.
Working on the frontlines of a pandemic also takes a psychological toll, which can lead to:
- Worsening of mental health conditions like anxiety and depression,
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating,
- Changes in sleeping or eating patterns,
- Worsening of chronic health problems, and:
- Increased use of tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs
There is no shame in struggling to cope with mental health concerns. You are not alone and there are several resources out there that can help. Certain people face higher risks for developing stress during a crisis, such as those with chronic diseases, children, teens, and older individuals, people with mental health conditions, and individuals who are responding directly to COVID-19 (like healthcare workers and first responders).
If you are having a hard time managing your stress, here are some useful tips from the CDC:
- Eat well-balanced, healthy meals,
- Maintain a sufficient sleeping schedule and exercise regularly,
- Avoid alcohol and drugs,
- Practice deep breathing, stretching, or meditation,
- Connect with others, like family, friends, and community members. Talk on the phone, text, or video chat to social distance responsibly, but remember to reach out and stay connected, and:
- Take some time every day for an activity you enjoy or practice some other form of self care
If you are experiencing feelings of wanting to harm yourself or others or are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like depression, sadness, or anxiety, call 9-1-1. You can also text TalkWithUs to 66746 or call 1-800-985-5990 to speak with someone through the Disaster Distress Hotline.
We are going to take a look at the importance of ergonomics in the workplace, which refers to the science of structuring a workplace to fit the users’ – or in this case the employees’ – needs. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a number of annual unintentional musculoskeletal injuries are the result of workplace failures to provide employees with personal protective equipment (PPE) in addition to the absence of administrative, work practice, and engineering controls that should be in place to reduce preventable injuries. Some of the most common types of musculoskeletal injuries are tendon and muscle strains, ligament sprains, soft tissue injuries, and fracture and dislocation injuries.
Engineering controls address several ergonomic risk factors that directly contribute to unintentional injuries. Some examples of effective engineering controls include using devices for lifting heavy objects in order to reduce exertion risks, redesigning tools to allow workers to be in neutral postures while using them, and repositioning work stations or desks to limit workers from physically overreaching. Using personal protective equipment is also a known way to reduce ergonomics-related hazards. Wearing padding or padded clothing limits a worker’s chances for coming into contact with vibrating, hard, or sharp surfaces that can inflict injury. When necessary, employers should also supply workers with protective thermal gloves to mitigate cold conditions while maintaining their ability to grab or grasp items and tools.
If you were injured at work because of your employer’s failure to provide a safe and healthful workplace free from recognizable ergonomics-related hazards, someone at our firm can help guide you through the process of filing a workers’ compensation claim. To learn more about filing a claim, you can contact our firm.
Building a Safety Culture
OSHA says a safety culture consists of: “shared beliefs, practices, and attitudes that exist at an establishment. Culture is the atmosphere created by those beliefs, attitudes, etc., which shape our behavior.” In other words, the basic premise of a safety culture is to foster an environment that prioritizes safety, addresses hazards, and provides effective solutions that reduce unintentional injuries and deaths. Thousands of workers die from unintentional injuries that occur in the workplace every year – but creating and maintaining an effective safety culture can prevent many of these incidents from happening.
OSHA recommends that employers observe the following tips to promote strong safety cultures in the workplace:
- Identify and define safety responsibilities at every level of the organization
- Communicate the details of the safety culture to employees at all levels, and ensure that managers and supervisors are on the same page when it comes to these goals
- Hold managers and supervisors accountable for setting good examples and being forces of positive change for safety and health
- Provide multiple options for employees to voice their worries or concerns
- Develop systems that track and ensure timeliness in hazard correction
- Report all injuries, near misses, and first aids in a timely and accurate manner, and:
- Implement safety committees that meet regularly and address new developments
The sad truth is that just because the majority of unintentional injuries are preventable does not mean that every employer embraces his or her legal obligation to provide a workplace free from recognizable hazards. If you were unintentionally injured due to your employer’s negligence, someone at our firm can help.
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), nearly 40,000 Americans die in automobile crashes every year, and data suggests that another 3 million sustain nonfatal injuries in crashes annually. Some of the most well documented causes behind fatal traffic accidents are impairment, speed, and distraction.
To reduce unintentional injury and death rates related to driving, the NSC suggests taking the following steps:
- Always wear a seat belt
- Observe speed limits and posted signs
- Recognize the dangers of driving impaired and commit to not driving after consuming alcohol or drugs. If you are going to be drinking, designate a sober driver or seek out alternate transportation
- Stay involved in teens’ driving habits and discuss the importance of driving responsibly
- Learn about your vehicle’s safety systems and how to use them
- Practice defensive driving, and:
- Avoid all distractions, such as talking on the phone, eating or drinking
If you were in a car accident and you sustained injuries, you may want to consider filing a legal claim to help cover medical bills and lost time from work. To learn more about filing a claim, contact a representative at our firm who can help.
From our entire team here at Galfand Berger, we wish our readers a happy and healthy National Safety Month!
Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Representing Injured Individuals Since 1947
With offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Galfand Berger serves clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation with our legal team, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.