June is National Safety Month, an observance dedicated to reducing leading causes of injury and death. Many injuries occur on the job as Americans engage in occupational pursuits that involve moving machinery, repetitive and stressful motion, slip and fall risks, driving hazards, and more. According to the National Safety Council, a worker is injured on the job every 7 seconds.
In spite of their frequency, though, job injuries are not inevitable. As employees and management exercise greater care, needless accidents can be eliminated, and the injury rate can be reduced.
Here are a few tips for creating a safer workplace.
- Be aware. If you’re buried in your phone or shuffling papers while walking, your chances of slipping and falling rise significantly. This is just one example of poor situational awareness, but there are many opportunities for you to get hurt if you aren’t vigilant. Simply paying attention to where you’re going and looking for potential hazards around you can go a long way to keeping you safe.
- Stay alert. When people don’t get enough rest at night, come to work under the influence, or grow drowsy on the job, they are at greater risk for accidents. Make sure that when you enter the workplace, you are well-rested and sober. If you feel yourself getting sleepy on the job, take a break.
- Clean up. If something spills in a walkway, clean it up immediately. It’s easy to reason that it won’t hurt anyone, but slips and falls are among the most common workplace injuries. You should also remove any obstructions that could cause others (or yourself) to trip.
- Use correct form. If you’re sitting in front of a computer all day, make sure that your shoulders stay lined up with your hips. Talk to your employer about ergonomic chairs, cushioned floor mats, or other equipment that could support you if you are sitting or standing for prolonged periods.
- Report problems. If you see unsafe conditions in your workplace, don’t ignore them; report them to a supervisor immediately so that they can take action. If no action is taken, follow up with management. Ignoring problems is easy, but it won’t make them go away.
- Wear safety gear. Whether it be work boots, gloves, a hard hat, or safety goggles, safety gear is there for a reason. Err on the side of caution here. Even if you’re not sure if you need the gear, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Make a plan. A safe workplace doesn’t just happen. Outline clear policies for maintaining safe operations.
- Educate your workforce. Hold regular safety briefings as a way to teach employees about your safety plan. These briefings may focus on operating equipment, body mechanics (standing or sitting properly or avoiding repetitive motion injuries), wearing safety gear properly, and more.
- Enforce proper policy. A safety policy won’t do you any good if you don’t enforce it. Make sure that all employees are following the policy consistently.
- Don’t overwork your employees. A worn out workforce is more prone to injuries. Make sure that you have enough staff members to distribute the workload well and that you give employees enough work breaks and time off of work.
- Foster good communication. Have an open door policy when it comes to safety issues. Invite employees to come to you when they have safety concerns, and take action to address their concerns.
- Maintain equipment. This may include machinery and vehicles. Schedule regular inspections and repair any problems immediately.
As you observe these steps, you can minimize occupational injuries. However, sometimes even the safest employers and most vigilant employees can get hurt on the job. If you have been injured while working, contact a skilled workers’ compensation attorney to help you navigate the claim filing process and get the benefits that you deserve.