April is designated as Injury Prevention Month.  However, every month should carry the same theme.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics(BLS), in 2008, 5,071 Americans lost their lives as a result of workplace accidents.  This was down from 5,657 in 2007, but only because of the slowing economy.  About 3.6 million Americans suffer serious work-related injuries annually.

Because of the recent devastating coal mine explosion in West Virginia, we are reminded of how dangerous this industry is.  The BLS states that these employees are more likely to be hurt, suffer illness, or be killed than workers in private industries.  Coal mining companies should ensure the safety of their workers through many means, such as proper ventilation, firefighting equipment, air monitor systems, safe places they can escape to, etc.  It is suspected that many violations will be discovered once a Federal investigation is complete, as that particular mine had been issued over 100 citations, just this year.

Every company owes it to each and every employee to be assured that their safety is the Number One Priority.  Next, each employee should do all they can to ensure their safety and that of their fellow workers.  Here are some suggestions for workers’ security:

  • Heavy machinery/equipment operators know how their machines perform better than anyone, so their supervisors should work with them daily to ensure the machinery is checked often, and running safely at all times.
  • Workers should have an active role in company safety programs, by submitting safety suggestions, serving on safety committees, and participating in safety training.
  • Slippery floors, loose carpet, or other hazardous conditions should be reported to supervisors and taken care of as soon as possible.
  • First Aid training is a must.  There should be first aid kits in designated work areas, along with employees who know how to administer basic first aid in case of an accident.
  • Eyewash stations should be available and kept in clean, working condition.
  • Wearing the proper personal protective equipment as required is extremely important.  PPE is designed to protect specific parts of the body that are exposed to hazards.  It should fit properly and be worn at all times while working.  Employees should know how to care for their PPE and ask for its replacement when needed.
  • Companies should warn employees against improper behavior, such as horseplay.  Persons who like to play pranks on their co-workers may be endangering them.  Work environments should be pleasant, but not to the degree of being reckless.
  • Lifting objects that are too heavy is another source of injury.  If this is the case, lifting aids should be used in order to prevent back injury.

It’s hard to find many types of work that don’t carry a chance of injury.  From Anthropologists  to Zoo Keeper, all occupations present some sort of danger.  The best lesson for each individual is to be aware of the risks involved in their occupation and stay alert in order to remain safe each day.