While work has changed dramatically in the past year, workplace accidents are still a reality. Here are a few ways both employers and workers can reduce accidents in the year ahead:
For employers: Create and build on a safety and health program
Employers of the past often took a reactive approach to worker health and safety—only addressing issues after they arose. Committed workplaces today instead take a proactive approach, aiming to prevent accidents, increase worker satisfaction and improve public perception.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) suggests that employers begin with a basic safety and health program and build on it from there. Written policies should be shared, goals defined and appropriate resources allocated. Most importantly, management has to make the program a central part of the company’s values, following their own rules and rewarding those who come forward with potential issues.
For employers: Implement training
Part of having a great safety and health program is giving staff, contractors and other partners time to participate. Therefore, when budgeting for a safety program, employers should be sure to budget for workers’ time as well, holding training during regular hours when everyone can attend.
Employers should also view workers as a resource when creating or updating training programs. Experienced workers will often have a thorough understanding of potential jobsite risks and useful ways to educate others about such risks. OSHA has training resources for employers just beginning to shape their programs.
For employers: Understand ergonomic risk exposures
Factories, healthcare companies and even employers with remote workers will all want to be sure their health and safety policies consider ergonomic risk. Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) can occur when workers lift heavy objects, reach overhead, work in awkward postures or perform the same tasks over and over. In fact, these disorders account for 33% of all reported injury and illness cases.
Proper ergonomics lessens the risk of MSDs. Like other safety goals, management must buy into the evaluation and improvement process, seeking out input from employees. Training can educate employees about the potential risks at their job site and help them learn the early signs of an MSD.
For employers: Review and respond
Management’s role in health and safety goes beyond the initial creation of a policy. OSHA suggests tracking performance with lagging and leading indicators. Lagging indicators track reactive items, like injuries or workers’ comp claims. Leading indicators monitor the proactive side, like program participation, employee safety ideas and reported near misses. Employers in the habit of collecting data can then analyze the information and develop their programs to continue improving.
For workers: Use proper lifting techniques
Employees who work for companies prioritizing ergonomics probably have a good start on their proper lifting techniques. If not, the Mayo Clinic suggests:
- Keeping the curve in your lower back
- Letting your legs power the lift
- Avoiding any twists as you move
Of course, employees who do regular or heavy lifting will also need the right protective equipment to avoid MSDs. Whether this means wearing a brace, using assistive devices or lifting as a team depends on the industry.
For workers: Use proper posture at work
Employees with ergonomic environments will have a better chance of maintaining proper posture and avoiding MSDs. For office employees, or for those currently working remotely, it’s important to select a supportive chair that allows the knees to be level with the hips. Wrists should be in line with the elbows. The computer monitor should be about an arm’s length away, with the top at or below eye level.
For workers: Keep workplaces clean
A cluttered or unclean workplace can quickly lead to problems, creating tripping hazards, blocking safety exits or making it challenging to sanitize surfaces. With COVID safety currently a priority for most workers, it’s especially important to allow the cleaning crew full access to the workspace by clearing clutter and unnecessary items aside so that high-touch surfaces can be fully disinfected. The CDC has specific guidance for unique COVID-related cleaning needs, like how to properly clean electronics or what to do if someone in the workplace has a positive diagnosis.
For workers: Report hazards to management
Management may have a safety policy in place, but unless workers feel comfortable coming forward with issues, injuries and illnesses will still happen. Employees should report unsafe situations to a manager or supervisor right away. Concerned employees may also file a complaint with OSHA. Employers may not fire workers for complaining to OSHA.
Your Georgia Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
If you’ve been injured on the job, a Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer can help. At the Law Offices of Laura Lanzisera, we’ll work to explain Georgia’s workers’ compensation system and the benefits available for your injury or disability. Contact the Law Offices of Laura Lanzisera today for a free consultation, or give us a call at 404-991-5097.