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Considering Workplace Safety

Considering Workplace Safety

The United States has some of the most far-reaching and comprehensive worker protection laws anywhere on the planet. Laws that govern how you may hire or indeed fire your workers, how you’re allowed to treat them while they’re in your employ, what levels of protection they may enjoy from discrimination, harassment, or injury and how much you have to pay them versus how many hours they’re allowed to work.

One of the most significant of these legal areas is in the field of health and safety. There are so many areas that businesses have to be compliant in, to ensure that the health and wellbeing of their workers are given a high priority, but there is a more extensive element of this legal framework that employers must take into consideration as well: injuries at work.

No one wants an environment where their employees are at risk for injury at the workplace, but it is an almost unavoidable occurrence, especially in areas of higher than usual risk. But how can you protect yourself as a worker from injuries at work and more to the point, who can you approach for help if you are injured at work, and your employer doesn’t want to come to the party?

Image by succo from Pixabay

First, personal responsibility.

While it is ultimately our employers’ responsibility to create an environment that is as risk-free as possible, it is also your responsibility as a worker to ensure that you’ve taken as much care as you possibly can. When taking on a task that could cause injury like heavy lifting or moving large or heavy objects, you are as much required to conduct an appropriate risk assessment before undertaking the task.

If you are injured while performing a risky function at work and it is found that you did not take the proper precautions, you may well have nullified any legal claims against your employer as a result.

Risk assessments.

Just about all companies in the United States today have some form of safety training at work, especially those businesses that operate in medium or high-risk zones, like construction, electrics, mining, and industry. However, hotel workers, cruise ship crew, airline crew, and resort workers are also exposed to higher than normal levels of workplace risk, so these workers are regularly drilled in risk assessments and how to conduct them.

Whether or not you work in one of these sectors, you can always benefit from learning how to conduct a risk assessment for yourself.

Get help when you’ve been hurt at work.

Each company will have its own procedure, but generally, you will need to report the accident to your health and safety or HR officer as quickly as possible. They will then conduct an assessment of the accident to determine if it was unavoidable or as a result of negligence on the part of the worker or the company.

If you are unhappy with the outcome of this assessment or you feel like you did not receive the right levels of support or medical attention, you may need to take this further and you can also contact workers’ compensation for advice.

3 replies »

  1. Business owners have to consider the importance of workplace safety and, just as importantly, ways to ensure that the latter is kept front of mind. Even something as simple as holding short courses can make a difference.

    • Inclined to agree. But my experience has been that it’s a multifaceted thing to ensure that workplace safety is practically and effectively managed. For instance, some companies will make numerous policies and programs to address safety, including training. But, they only follow up with corrective action (mostly) on things affecting production or sales numbers, not safety metrics. Which sucks. I mean, even if you don’t give a crap about people, which you should, you should care about mitigating costs. Injury and property damage often cost a lot. The more profitable you tend to be is often by making sure your overall costs are significantly or substantially lower than what you sell your product or service for.

  2. I agree with personal responsibility. However, my experience in safety management has taught me that it often can be the case that workers focus on what their bosses focus on. They do what their bosses will potentially fire them for not doing. And while I generally don’t think management intentionally is sending the message of “ger’er done and forget the rest”, that message can be effectively sent to workers regardless. If management only has policies and programs, but they have little actual enforcement of them, it shows what they practically value. I’m not for discipline as a primary corrective action, but there does need to be a bottom to things besides losing limbs or knocking down building supports and such. We should set people up for practical success with training, resources, and culture. If reasonable attempts to get workers to focus on safety as part of doing the job correctly fail, then eventually it does become appropriate to discipline. Liked the post. Hope you have a great day!

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