According to the National Safety Council, workplace accidents cost over $161 billion in 2017, taking into account medical expenses, loss of productivity, administrative costs, and uninsured expenses. Of that amount, employers paid over $12 billion in uninsured costs. Employees lost over 104,000,000 days of work due to on-the-job injuries, time that had to be covered by overtime, temporary workers, or extra shifts. Many of these accidents could have been prevented.
Common Causes of Workplace Accidents
The most common cause of injuries leading to lost workdays is overexertion, accounting for over one-third of reported workplace accidents. Overexertion can include lifting or moving heavy objects, using improper lifting techniques, and engaging in any repetitive motions over long periods of time. While it is ultimately up to the employee to know the limits of his own body, employers can help reduce overexertion injuries by:
- Making sure all employees are trained in proper lifting techniques
- Requiring the use of safety equipment such as back braces and wrist supports.
- Making sure that shifts are adequately staffed, so workers do not have to lift heavy objects without assistance.
- Allowing workers whose jobs duties require repetitive motions to take regular breaks.
Contact With Objects
This category of accidents includes being struck by falling objects, getting caught in machinery, and being struck or crushed by collapsing structures or materials. Employers can help avoid these injuries by:
- Not allowing untrained employees to operate dangerous equipment
- Enforcing a dress code that does not allow loose clothing that could get caught in machinery
- Making sure that boxes and other materials are stacked properly
- Frequent inspections of storerooms, warehouse space, and dangerous machinery
Slips and Falls
This includes falling off of ladders and scaffolding, tripping over objects, slipping on spilled liquids, and falling from high places at worksites, such as roofs, decks, and ledges. In addition to proper training of employees, employers can take the following steps to reduce slip and fall accidents:
- Not allowing employees to work on ladders, scaffolding, roofs, or other high places alone
- Making sure ladders and scaffoldings are properly maintained and sturdy
- Having proper equipment available for every job so workers do not have to improvise with equipment not suited to the task
- Keeping floors and aisles clear of debris
- Having a janitorial crew or assigned workers on hand to clean up spills quickly
Exposure to chemicals, dust, fumes, and other environmental hazards can lead to permanent disability or death. OSHA standards require all employers to provide adequate safety equipment for employees working with hazardous chemicals or materials. These include breathing equipment, eye protection, hearing protection, and protective clothing. Employers should make sure all workers use protective equipment at all times, even when it may seem inconvenient or less efficient to do so.
New York Workers Compensation Firm
If you or a family member is involved in an accident at work, call The O’Brien Firm at 716- 907-7777 to learn more about your rights and options. You may also visit our website at http://www.theobrienfirm.com/.