I have had some safety focus of late. I posted How to prevent falls in the workplace and How will the “gig” economy affect safety. When my friends at SocialMonsters.org offered up this post I thought it was a natural fit.
Nearly 13 deaths were reported every day in 2014, according to the United States Department of Labor. Fortunately, those numbers have dropped significantly from 1970, when worker fatalities averaged 38 deaths a day. Worker injuries and illnesses are also down from 10.9 percent in 1972 to 3.2 percent in 2014.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) was signed in 1970 as a response to dangerous, nationwide working conditions. In 1972, OSHA issued its first standard by aggressively limiting workplace exposure to asbestos fibers, making it rare in today’s workplaces. OHSA continues to oversee workplace injuries and fatalities and guide companies on how to keep employees safe.
Businesses should follow best practices for workplace injuries with this quick checklist.
Digital Buddy Systems
Working remotely in the field or on the go is becoming the norm in today’s modern workplace. Digital buddy systems have emerged as a way to stay safe by staying connected and providing a way to check in. But simply calling in or texting a co-worker isn’t enough to stay safe if the lone worker is injured or incapacitated. Other fail-proof protocols must be in place to ensure real-time safety.
Companies can set up their lone workers with an iPhone 6 and the StaySafe app. With these tools workers are connected to a hub and maps display where everyone is in real time. Lone workers also should check in after meetings to indicate they’re safe. If they fail to do so, the app triggers an alert and notifies their company or co-workers.
Workers compensation issues vary from state to state and generally fall under a state-regulated insurance system. The system provides covered employees with income and medical benefits when injured on the job. The insurance also limits the employer’s liability if a suit is brought against the company.
Some states, like Texas, can choose whether or not to carry worker’s compensation insurance. However, employers are still required to report both their non-coverage status and work-related injuries to the Division of Worker’s Compensation. Businesses that operate in Texas are required to report any accidents, injuries and illnesses that cause more than a day of lost time, otherwise they could face fees and penalties.
Avoiding Unnecessary Healthcare Expenses
Employers can reduce their expenses, including healthcare expenses, by creating a safer work environment, according to the Laborers’ Health & Safety Fund of North America. That could include better safety procedures or safer equipment; however, companies with proven safety records get lower insurance rates and premiums. The LHSFNA Occupational Safety and Health Division can conduct an on-site safety audit to help contractors develop safety programs that lower their rates.
OSHA requires covered employers to prepare and maintain records of serious occupational injuries and illnesses. Work fatalities must be reported within 8 hours, and anything relating to inpatient hospitalizations, amputations and losses of an eye within 24 hours. Such injuries and reporting can be called in to 1-800-321-OSHA or with an online form through the OSHA website. If you’re unsure of what you need to report, call to speak to an OSHA representative.