If you’re working on launching or building a startup, you no doubt have dozens of tasks on your to-do list that you’re trying to deal with all the time. As a result, it’s probably the case that thoughts about workplace safety for yourself and your staff members is pretty low down on your list of business priorities.
However, with people being injured or falling ill in the workplace in the millions every year, and many costs (physically, emotionally, financially, and time-wise) being incurred as a result, safety on the job does need to be given due consideration, before it is too late. Read on for the lowdown on workplace safety that all employers need to know today.
Common Workplace Injuries and Illnesses
To help keep your workforce safe on the job, it is important to be aware of some of the most common issues which crop up at work. While employees face a wide variety of potential hazards, some of the accidents that are a regular issue are trips, slips, and falls.
These typically happen because floor surfaces are too slippery or wet, floors are cluttered with too many things, people aren’t working safely at heights, or workers complete manual handling tasks in the wrong manner (e.g., they lift or carry items which are simply too heavy for them). As a result of slips, trips, and falls, workers often end up with neck or back problems, or head injuries.
Similarly, sprains, breaks, and strains of various body parts, but especially arms, legs, wrists, and ankles, are also very common. These injuries can occur for many reasons, but are often a result of falling objects hitting workers, or because people attempt to handle items in cramped spaces or at awkward angles.
Repetitive motion injuries such as Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) and related problems also occur on a frequent basis. These often stem from people spending too many hours typing, writing or using computers, but can also occur due to the frequent use of vibrating machines, and for other reasons.
When workers suffer from repetitive motion injuries, they will find that the muscles and tendons in their body (in their hands, arms, and neck, in particular) end up strained. While this is enough of a discomfort, this issue can also cause further negative consequences, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, vision problems, and significant ongoing pain.
Tips to Avoid Hazards
There are plenty of things employers can do to help keep workers safe when they’re on the job. For example, businesses must know how to set up work spaces safely, and they should always encourage employees to use safety equipment and the safest techniques when using items, moving about workspaces, lifting and storing items, and completing their jobs.
Employees need to learn the correct posture to use when they are handling heavy, bulky, or awkward items, and when they are sitting for long stretches of time at a desk. Workers should take regular breaks to stretch and move about too.
Ergonomic equipment should always be used in the workplace, plus mechanical aids such as forklifts and wheelbarrows should be enlisted to move heavier and bulkier items. People should also be instructed to work together to move things, climb ladders, and otherwise complete any tasks which increase health risks. Instructions on working safely at heights is of particular importance.
In addition, staff members should be trained to keep all work spaces clean and clear of hazards and debris at all times. Pieces of equipment and vehicles should be well maintained and replaced wherever needed, and toxic substances must be handled, stored, and disposed of very carefully too.
An Employer’s Responsibilities
Employers have a variety of responsibilities when it comes to the safety of their workers. For starters, business owners must be clear on the fact that they need to keep first-aid kits on-site at all premises, and that wiring and electrical items should be regularly inspected for faults, wear, and tear, and other potential issues.
Furthermore, all managers should understand what to do if an accident occurs in the workplace, or if an employee falls ill or is injured in some other way. Detailed records must be kept of any injuries which occur, with information noted such as the day, time, and specific location of an incident; the names of the people who were involved or witnessed the event, and their accounts of what happened; the environmental conditions at the time, and the events leading up to the incident; and any damage which was sustained by equipment, the premises or other items.
Also note that, if a staff member suffers from an illness or injury caused in the workplace that isn’t their fault, they may decide to seek legal representation from a specialist in the area, such as a personal injury lawyer in Corpus Christi. If they do so, they will have to prove that the harm caused to them was directly due to negligence on the part of the firm they work for, and/or as a result of completing their work.