Workplace safety is all about preventing illness and injury at a place of work. Ensuring that workplace injuries never occur is highly important to safety professionals. The workplace deaths that took place in 2014 amounted to approximately 4,836. This amounts to 91 people per week getting injured or suffering a fatality on the job. It’s a safety professional’s job to determine what the cause of these workplace injuries are in order to prevent them from happening.
What kind of accidents occur in the workplace?
Accidents have been categorized into five different main categories. The greatest percentage of workers that get hurt on the job are involved in material handling. Approximately 32 percent of the accidents are caused by material handling. An additional 16 percent of accidents are caused by slips, trips, and falls. Working at height or where a fall could mean injury is a common OSHA violation, according to National Safety Council consultant JoAnne Dankert. She has stated that most employers don’t have any written protocols in place for a fall.
According to Dankert, many employers don’t realize that they are responsible for training, providing fall protection, and fall protection gear. Employers need to make sure that employees are well trained on how to put on their protection gear and how it is used. Dankert went on to state that employers need to find all locations within a facility where fall protection is required.
It’s important to make sure that the fall gear fits the employee properly. Keep in mind that some anchor points within a facility may need to be installed by an engineer. Safety professionals can help save employers time and money by having a seat at the table when these business purchases are made. Equipment should be checked regularly to see if sharp edges, welding, or chemicals have weakened the equipment. Damaged equipment should be removed from the facility once it is discovered. It’s also a possibility for a company to invest in a platform that has railings and a swing gate in front of a fixed ladder. This is a costlier option than implementing a fall protection plan and varies upon budget.
Implement a process of cleaning as you go because poor housekeeping can lead to clutter blocking the fire exits, emergency exits, and pathways. For example, in emergency situations, the lights can go out, and stacked chairs in the wrong place can cause a problem. Find proper storage for all equipment to prevent it from being strewn throughout the facility. Don’t store anything in electrical rooms besides electrical equipment. Leaks and standing water should be dealt with immediately, as this can clearly lead to slips and falls. If it’s possible for spills of a certain substance to require training to clean, the staff need to have a system available to immediately alert a supervisor of the spill.
Workers suffer 10 percent of their injuries because of being struck by an object or running into an object. Tools can be dangerous and often require special certifications to operate in some settings. While that is the case, only seven percent of accidents are caused by tools. Cumulative trauma is next on the list of accidents with approximately 4 percent of accidents. These traumas are caused by doing repetitive tasks in the workplace, vibrations, pressing against hard surfaces, or having to hold odd positions for long periods.
Safety professionals ask themselves how businesses can prevent these numerous violations to safety from happening. This is a crucial subject to consider, as businesses could be subject to financial sanctions and endure other penalties. Professionals have been looking for better methods to improve the current state of accidents occurring in America. When the workplace environment is insufficient, it subjects the business to many problems. In particular, financial problems can come up for a business with a less than adequate safety environment.
The financial penalties of workplace hazard
Out of 39,228 OSHA inspections, 6,896 of the citations were directly related to lack of fall protection. These accidents that could have been prevented totaled $19 million in fines for employers. There were also 5,624 citations related to hazard communication. This resulted in $3 million in fines. In addition, there were 3,552 citations related to respiratory protection. This also led to a hefty fine of $3 million.
Fast and effective solutions for a safer workplace
Thankfully there are solutions available to business owners to help prevent these unfortunate accidents and deaths while saving money in the process. One of a few tips to safety professionals in the workplace would be to not improvise. Ensure that the job is done properly from start to finish with the appropriate equipment. Make sure everyone involved knows their role in the task being completed.
You can help prevent a number of accidents from occurring by making sure the proper equipment is readily available. Prevent falls by having proper safety gear, ladders, and scaffolding. Keep common areas that people frequently walk through clear of any obstacles. Make slip resistant floor a priority and think of the many accidents that can be prevented from this simple change.
Instill a workplace safety culture
Ensure the safety of employees by helping them understand how equipment can be safely set up and used. Teach your team to be proactive and recognize when a problem may occur before it happens. Also, provide the proper tools, furnishings, and conditions needed for the job. Provide access to ergonomic tools for employees to help prevent bodily injuries and cumulative trauma.
In some cases, a simple change can create a huge difference, such as providing a supportive chair, proper lighting, and ergonomic keyboards. Integrate a culture of safety into the work environment through your own actions. Make it clear that your organization places the safety of the employees very high and that the employees should feel the same.
You can help safeguard employees who would otherwise be exposed to possible hazard. If you would like to gain more information about a career in safety, there is a form below you can fill out and submit.