Considering most people spend the majority of their day working, it’s no surprise many accidents happen on the job. In 2015, there were about 2.9 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, many of these accidents could be prevented with a little care. June is National Safety Month, so here are our top 5 tips for preventing workplace injuries in your business or company.
Tip #1: Prevent Falls, Slips, and Trips
Slip-and-fall accidents are one of the most common types of nonfatal work accident. It is also one of the most easily preventable. According to U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards, all workplaces should be kept clean, orderly, and in a sanitary condition. This means ensuring all floor space is kept clear of any spilled substances and placing all objects out of the walkways and pathways of all employees. No matter how hectic the work environment is, people should always take the time to get tripping or falling hazards out of the way. They can best accomplish this task by doing some of the following:
- Using drip pans and guards
- Installing anti-slip flooring in areas that can’t always be cleaned
- Replacing worn, damaged, or ripped flooring
- Installing mirrors and warning signs to help employees deal with blind spots
- Keeping aisles and exits clear of obstacles and items
- Reporting and cleaning up spills and leaks
In places with building materials, such as construction areas, take the time to periodically sweep walkways and rest areas for projecting nails, holes, loose boards, and splinters.
Tip #2: Remove Fire Hazards
One of the most dangerous parts of a fire-related emergency is the panicked response. People are not usually orderly when escaping a blaze, and if someone trips and falls, others are more likely to step on the individual than stop and help them up. However, employees and employers alike can do more to keep unnecessary flammable materials from building up in the work area. For example, combustible waste should be kept in covered metal receptacles and disposed of every day. Likewise, flammable materials should only be kept in the work area in the amounts needed for the job. Once they no longer need the materials, workers should store them in an assigned safe storage area. Additionally, people can do the following to prevent a fire:
- Fixing electrical hazards
- Keeping materials at least 18 inches from automatic sprinklers, fire extinguishers, and sprinkler controls
- Keeping passageways and fire doors free from obstructions
- Store flammable materials in safe locations away from ignition sources
Tip #3: Prevent Dust Accumulation
Dust is a surprisingly dangerous substance. If too much of it accumulates in one area, it poses a significant explosion hazard. NFPA 654, a standard that prevents fire and dust explosions, tells people how to identify hazardous areas. People can use industrial vacuums to dust walls, ceilings, machinery, and other places. High-efficiency vacuum systems can take care of dust problems. People can also rely on industrial hygienists to test the workplace for exposures if air quality and dust are concerns. Dust can also affect the condition of equipment and product quality, so it’s important to address the problem early.
Tip #4: Don’t Track Materials
Sometimes, people don’t notice when a material has been spilled on the ground. They might step on it by accident and track the substance to wherever they go around the building. If the material is hazardous, this can be problematic if the material is tracked to an area with unprotected workers. If the substance is flammable, it could be tracked to an area where fire and heat are more prevalent. Work-area mats can be used to help prevent the tracking of materials around a workplace. It can be cloth or sticky-topped, so people can step on the material and leave the substance on the mats. The mats should always be clean and well-maintained, so buildup doesn’t occur. To further prevent contamination, a business should have separate cleaning protocols for different areas to prevent cross-contamination. Using different cleaning materials for different substances can also prevent cross-contamination. If materials are toxic, industrial hygiene testing, uniforms, and showering facilities might be needed to keep people safe. Employees should also have uniforms designed to withstand hazardous chemicals, which civilian clothing can’t do.
Tip #5: Prevent Object Falls
Many head and neck injuries happen as a result of falling objects. Protections such as toe boards, nets, or toe rails can keep objects from falling and hitting workers or equipment. Likewise, stacking objects or equipment in responsible and safe manners can prevent them from falling. Boxes, for example, should be stacked straight up and down to keep them from falling. Lower shelves should also contain heavier objects, which can prevent shelving units from tipping over. Stacked items should also be out of the way of any walking employees whenever possible. If you have the luxury of building your workspace, keep your layout in mind, so workers aren’t exposed to hazards as they walk through various areas.
For more information about workplace safety, visit the National Safety Council’s website here. If you were injured on the job and would like help filing a workers’ compensation claim, or disputing a denied claim, don’t hesitate to call us. Our skilled Charleston workplace injury attorneys have more than 40 years of experience helping people seek compensation for their medical bills, property damage, and lost wages. Berthold Law Firm, PLLC has a track record of excellent service and great results. Let us see what we can do for you.
Contact us at (304) 605-2040 or fill out our online form to schedule a free case consultation with us today.