Seven Ways Employers Can Protect Workers August 25, 2022
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), private industry employees reported 2.7 million nonfatal workplace injuries and 4,764 occupational fatalities in 2020. Although the numbers represent a slight decrease from the previous year, American employers continue to spend approximately $1 billion per week on workers’ compensation costs and an additional $1,111 on training per employee to counteract the persistent injury rates, indicating a much larger safety issue. As reported by EHS Today, an occupational safety and health magazine, employers must take a proactive approach to keep employees safe from sustaining preventable workplace illnesses and injuries. We have detailed some of these approaches below.
There are numerous hazards in the workplace, including:
- Slips, trips and falls
- Falling objects
- Electrical hazards
- Fire hazards
- Chemical exposure risks
- Repetitive motion injuries
- Ergonomic injuries
While there are plenty of known risks for employers to address, we live in a fast-paced and ever-changing world, which means that safety issues, too, are changing and evolving. Employers must currently conduct risk assessments annually, but with millions of injuries happening each year, annual assessments clearly are not cutting it. By performing risk assessments more frequently, employers can address concerns before they become a problem for workers.
Build a Safety Culture
Keeping workers safe involves more than conducting safety assessments. Having a safety culture is extremely important because it helps companies maintain safe operations. To create and promote an effective safety culture in the workplace, employers should:
- Have a shared mission that extends beyond making a profit. Company goals should include keeping employees safe at every level
- Involve organizational stakeholders so they can observe worker safety practices
- Continuously reinforce learning at each stage of the employment life cycle, from discussing safety with job candidates to conversations with senior management
- Enforce accountability. When an incident occurs, there should be a strong and immediate response. This also shows employees that you are on their side
Make the Job Description Include Safety
Another way to promote a workplace safety culture and to protect employees is to weave safety into each job description itself. Doing this allows employers to create specific, safety-centric rules for every role in their company, which offers the following benefits for workers and employers alike:
- A reduction of overall company risk of serious injury resulting from making safety a job requirement
- Retrain employees to avoid repetitious tasks that can cause harm to their bodies
- Attract potential candidates by demonstrating that your company cares about its employees
Provide Personal Protective Equipment and Enforce Use
Personal protective equipment, or PPE, saves lives every day. Not only is PPE required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), but it is also one of the most powerful tools that employers have to safeguard workers against preventable workplace injuries. Wearing head gear, for example, protects workers from sustaining head injuries. Ear protection helps them retain their hearing as they get older. To promote the use of personal protective equipment, EHS Today recommends:
- If workers are not wearing their PPE, ask them why. Sometimes, this is because employers offer outdated and uncomfortable protective gear. If you can, offer two to three models of each item to allow workers to pick based on their personal preferences
- Consider asking for feedback from your employees when you are researching upgraded safety gear. You can also let workers try out the gear; this also engages them in a regular discussion of workplace safety concerns
Accommodate Remote Work
Remote work was never as commonplace before as it became during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although industrial settings tend to not accommodate remote work as comfortably as administrative settings, it should be enforced when employees are not feeling well. Employers can mitigate risks associated with COVID-19, the flu and other infectious diseases by:
- Encouraging employees to stay up-to-date on immunizations and boosters
- Require employees to self-quarantine and test when they have been exposed to the virus
- Emphasize on-the-job hygiene
- Encourage mask wearing and social distancing when risk factors or high local case numbers are present
Focus on Ergonomics
Ergonomic injuries affect the body’s musculoskeletal system and are often a result of repetitive motion injuries and strains. Ergonomic injuries are also the most common type of injuries that occur in the workplace today. Luckily, there are numerous ways to protect workers from these injuries, such as:
- Evaluate workstations to change their layouts and to improve the comfort and safety of workers
- Implement administrative policies that reduce strain, like limiting the amount of overtime for workers and increasing the duration and frequency of breaks
- Promote the use of PPE that ensures safer movement, such as grip-enhancing gloves and anti-slip footwear
Develop On-Site Injury Assessments
When a worker is injured on the job, it can sometimes take hours to get them the care that they need. But, with major improvements in telemedicine and video conferencing, employers can now offer workers a way to access immediate clinical triage right after an incident takes place. Telemedicine offers others benefits, too, like virtual ergonomics assessments that help with employee workstations. Workers can also access physical therapy through telemedicine applications, which helps them to recover from their injuries.
What to Do If You Were Injured at Work: Our Attorneys’ Recoveries
Employers are responsible for providing workers with a safe and healthful work environment. This includes protecting them from known hazards. If your work causes any injury, illness or disease, you are entitled to workers’ compensation. Similarly, if your job contributed to or aggravated your disability you are entitled to workers’ compensation as well.
At Galfand Berger, our attorneys fight tirelessly on behalf of their injured clients. Here are just a few examples of our firm’s notable recoveries:
If you were injured at work and would like to talk to someone about filing a workers’ compensation claim, we can help. Contact a representative online now.
Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP, Representing Injured Victims Since 1947
Call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or fill out our online form for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, we serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Allentown and Harrisburg.