We’ve written about workplace safety and technology and safety tips during the winter season. Here are more suggestions from The Hartford which provides workers’ compensation insurance. Employees should understand that they do not have to prove fault if they suffer a workplace accident. When workplace injuries happen, employees are entitled to payment of all reasonably necessary medical bills and generally 2/3 of their average weekly wages while they can’t work. They can also claim additional damages if they have a partial or full permanent injury.
While employees are entitled to assert their rights, the best course of action is to avoid workplace accidents in the first place. Safety precautions can help prevent accidents or help reduce the severity of accidents. The Hartford states that in 2017, employers reported 2.8 million non-deadly workplace injuries. 1/3 of those injuries caused employees to lose days from work. While employers do need to spend to implement safety precautions, the cost of these safety steps is normally less than the cost of paying workplace compensation benefits for injuries. In addition, employers should understand that implementing safety steps may result in lower workers’ compensation premiums.
Implementing the GOAL method
GOAL stands for Go Out and Look. This means employees should, depending on the workplace, conduct inspections on a daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis – with different tasks for each basis:
- Daily. Inspect hazards that expose a high risk or operations such as forklift use and power press guarding that change frequently.
- Weekly. Inspect hazardous areas – “flammable storage areas, construction sites and hazardous manufacturing areas.”
- Monthly. Hartford recommends employers inspect retail, warehousing, and manufacturing areas.
- Quarterly. Employers should check the grounds, offices, and parking lots.
It’s not enough to conduct the inspections. Employers need to properly document the inspections for regulatory compliance issues and to determine if follow-up is necessary. The documents should include:
- The name of the person conducting the inspecting
- Identifying any unsafe work practices or conditions
- Stating what actions should be taken to correct anything wrong the inspection revealed
- Noting what corrective measures were taken
The company safety committee and senior management should review the inspections. By conducting the review, they can monitor the corrective steps and note any dangerous trends.
Safety tips for the office
Office environments are different than non-office businesses in many ways. For starters, office employees sit most of the day. Sitting all day puts workers at risk for neck and back pain. Office workers often suffer repetitive stress injuries due to computer use, phone use, and other tasks. Repetitive stress injuries include bursitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other hand and wrist injuries. Vision disorders may also be due to repetitive stress. Other possible office environment injuries include:
- Slip and falls of cords, cables, and misplaced objects
- Injuries due to worn-down furniture
- Respiratory injuries due to poor ventilation
- Heat exhaustion due to failure to recognize the signs and failure to acclimatize new employees
There are many steps from using quality materials to having workers take regular rest breaks that can help. The first step is understanding the dangers that exist. The second step is figuring out what remedial steps to take.
Falls in office places
According to the Hartford, a 2011 study found “29 percent of ground-level falls resulted in 31 or more lost workdays.” Some of the common reasons office falls occur include:
- Slipping or tripping over loose carpets, broken tiles, misplaced objects, electrical cords, files, and the desks themselves.
- Falling off of unstable chairs while looking or reaching for something
- Falling from standing on a chair to reach higher levels
- Slipping on wet floors
- Dim lighting
Hartford Insurance recommends that employers help employees avoid falls in the office by:
- “Keeping walkways clear and encourage employees to look before they walk
- Keeping drawers closed when not in use
- Encouraging employees not to overreach for things while seated
- Fixing hazards such as loose carpeting, electrical cords, etc.
- Picking up misplaced objects
- Ensuring rooms are brightly lit”
Repetitive stress injuries are usually due to years of repeat harmful motions. Quality workplace ergonomics can help avoid repetitive stress injuries. A few suggestions for creating a better workstations include:
- Adjusting the chairs to the height of the employee. The worker’s thighs “should be parallel with the floor, while feet are flat on the ground.”
- Making sure the keyboard is the correct height. While an employee types, his/her elbows should be at a 90-degree angle. The wrists of the employee should be straight.
- The monitor should be positioned at the worker’s eye level.
Other workplace safety suggestions
The safety guidelines differ depending on the type of job. One common denominator/thread is that safety training can help reduce the risk of workplace injuries. Employees should be trained to identify risks. Workers should be trained on how to use each piece of machinery or equipment they use. They should know where the usage manuals or instructions are located. Employees should also be trained on what personal protective equipment to use for each type of machinery/equipment and how to use the personal protective equipment.
To be sure employees understand the proper way to use equipment and other office tasks, employers should help employees in the following ways:
- Employees should understand the equipment they use – including the design features and components
- Employees should have a “general understanding of body mechanics and the importance of moving around frequently.”
- Understand basic principles of ergonomics and how to apply them in the workplace
- Understand the proper communication channels
At Joe Miller Law Ltd., our seasoned North Carolina and Virginia worker’s compensation lawyer has been fighting for injured employees for more than 25 years. He’s helped thousands of workers get the full compensation they deserve. We anticipate the arguments insurance companies make such as saying you’re ready to return to work before you’re healthy and arguing that your injuries are due to a prior accident. We work with your doctors to show just how severe your injuries are and why you hurt all the time. To talk with a respected workers’ compensation attorney, call lawyer Joe Miller, Esq., at 888-667-8295. or use our online contact form to schedule an appointment.
Employees in North Carolina and Virginia who have a work injury case can also use our New Electronic Case Review for a faster turnaround to determine if a case exists and if representation is required.