Workplace injuries have been greatly reduced in the past few decades. According to OSHA, since 1972, worker injuries and illnesses have dropped from 11 incidents per 100 workers to fewer than 4 per 100 in 2010. This is a tremendous increase in workplace safety, but there is still room for improvement. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics this still equates to nearly 3 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses. In 2012, over 4,300 individuals were killed on the job.
The burden for keeping the workplace safe rests with the employer. They are responsible for meeting or exceeding the guidelines set out by OSHA. Even though a business may not be involved in an inherently dangerous industry, every job comes with its own set of particular hazards. Some common workplace hazards include:
- Transportation accidents
- Workplace violence
- Slipping and falling
- Repetitive motion and ergonomic injuries
This is hardly an exhaustive list. What matters is that each business should take into account which hazards are most likely to pose a threat to its employees and take actions to mitigate them. Not all accidents are avoidable, but with planning even many of these risks can be forestalled.
One of the biggest causes of workplace fatalities isn’t even tied directly to the jobsite. It involves the commute getting there. Driving accidents are a major source of injury and death. Fortunately, their causes can be abated. The culprits behind workplace driving accidents are often over work, cell phone usage, and sleep deprivation. A solution for this is to make employee’s work hours regular and predictable. Instituting safe cell phone usage policies will also help reduce accidents and fatalities.
Another cause of workplace injury is violence. We often hear of disgruntled employees with guns shooting their co-workers, but this is a statistically small percentage of workplace related violence. The vast majority of workplace violence, nearly three quarters, is attributed to robbery. Employers should take this into consideration, especially where employees are transporting money for the company.
Factors employees should look into include where employees are handling money, where they are interacting with the public, or when they are working alone or late at night. Making sure the area around the workplace is well lit and monitored by security cameras is a good deterrent.
Slips and falls are another major cause of workplace injury and death, especially in the fields of construction and landscaping. However, slips and falls are also attributed to cluttered or unkempt workplaces. Keeping floors clear of cords, paper, etc. and cleaning up spills immediately will greatly reduce the chance employees will be injured from slips and falls.
The most non-fatal cause of workplace injury is repetitive motion or ergonomic injury. These injuries affect employees across a wide range of industries from office environments to manufacturing. These injuries often cause chronic conditions which don’t easily heal, therefore they result in more lost work time.
Not all workplace injuries can be avoided. However, they can be greatly reduced through employee education and awareness. If you or someone you know has been injured at work and believe the employer is at fault, you may want to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer that can help determine if the accident was preventable.
Emilee Atteberry is in her last year of law school and enjoys writing on a variety of law topics. She is particularly interested in personal injury law and currently writes for http://www.peachweathers.com/.