How Can Business Owners Protect Workers Against Workplace Accidents?

Around 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses occur in a typical year, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with the construction industry representing the lion’s share of these accidents. Younger and older workers are at a particularly high risk – a statistic that should be taken into account by business owners, bearing in mind that developed countries have an increasingly higher percentage of older workers. If you are a new business owner and you want to keep your staff safe, knowing the risks, taking appropriate action, and protecting yourself legally are all key steps to take.

What Are The Causes Of Accidents And Injuries?

Some of the most common causes of accidents in workplaces include lifting items, fatigue, dehydration, poor lighting, dangerous materials, violence, stress, and slips, and falls. The latter can occur even in relatively low-risk jobs. Common results of on-the-job slips and falls include fractures, bruising, traumatic brain injuries, whiplash, internal bleeding, and more. Slips and falls are so common that there are dedicated legal specialists to help victims receive compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and mental anguish – you can read more here about the different legal claims that can result from this type of accident. It is important for employers to create safe workplaces that reduce the chance of small and large accidents alike.

Building A Safe Workplace

Creating a safe workspace requires a multifaceted approach and continual inspection and updating of areas utilized by workers. It begins by identifying the risks present in the work area – these range from dangerous electrical equipment to faulty machinery, poor lighting, and lack of ergonomics in furniture, right through to working with dangerous chemicals. Employees need to be well trained with respect to safe use of equipment and means of working with chemicals. There should be a strict workplace safety program that employees are aware of (i.e. employees should know the procedure to follow to report any issues spotted), and any accident or injury should be treated seriously, with necessary steps taken to reduce the risk of repetition. Employers should also work to promote workers’ mental health by offering them flexibility and autonomy, by encouraging them to stand and get some fresh air every few hours if they have desk jobs, and by offering incentives such as gym memberships of in-office classes focused on stress reduction, such as mindfulness meditation and yoga.

Legal Obligations

Employers have the obligation to obtain workers’ compensation insurance for their employers; a poster about this compensation should be placed in a visible part of the office or workspace so that employees are aware of it. Employees should be instructed on procedures to be followed – for instance, any work-related injury or illness should be reported to the employer, who must then make a claim within 24 hours and provide a copy to the employee. There are other protocols covering medical treatment, reasonable accommodation to the injured employee, and the giving of notice, so it is vital to receive legal advice so you follow every requirement to the letter. When an employee receives benefits under Workers’ Compensation law, he or she waives the right to file a personal injury suit against the employer.

Millions of accidents occur every year in the U.S. While most take place in high-risk sectors, accidents like trips and falls can actually occur in any workplace and can have more serious consequences than initially thought. It is vital for employers to create safe workspaces. Protecting themselves legally via workers’ compensation insurance should also be a priority.

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