There are over 7 million work injuries each year that result in millions of dollars of medical payments and missed work time. And that’s just the reported injuries — we all know workers who don’t report incidents due to embarrassment, fear of consequences or lack of knowledge around their rights.
Employees should be safe at work and encouraged to report injuries without repercussions. Fortunately, there’s many things businesses can do to prevent workplace injuries and keep workers safe.
Here are some steps you can take and advocate for today.
Safe Materials Handling
We all want to be safe when we’re doing our jobs but unfortunately, some companies aren’t entirely honest about the materials involved or how safe they are.
Asbestos was a known problem for years but businesses covered up the risks to maintain their operations and profitability. This callous approach to others’ lives is inexcusable. So how can you protect yourself?
Almost everyone has access to a wealth of information about safety and materials simply by using the internet. Educate yourself and your coworkers about the materials you work with and how to handle them safely. You can advocate for specific personal protective equipment (PPE) or even take action against your employer if they’re exposing you to toxic materials.
Reasonable Work Hours
Most people understand that in manufacturing and other industries, overtime is sometimes required. However, you should never be required to work until you’re exhausted. Employees who are overtired or burnt out can make unsafe decisions and injure themselves or others.
If you feel like you’re burned out, don’t be shy about seeing a doctor. You can get a diagnosis related to how you feel, and it can impact what you need to do at work.
Advocate for reasonable work hours and talk to managers about the safety implications of overwork. By standing up for yourself and your coworkers, you can help create a safer environment for all.
Appropriate Safety Equipment and Signage
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has specific rules for what kinds of safety equipment, notifications and signage workplaces must have. These apply to industries from healthcare to construction, agriculture, factories and even ships.
According to OSHA, the most common safety violations involve standards for:
- Fall protection
- Communication of hazards
- Respiratory protection
- Scaffolding requirements
- Ladder requirements
Ensure that your workplace has appropriate safety equipment and training, and that you and your coworkers stick to them. When you do, you’ll be much safer.
If you feel that your employer or workplace is violating a safety standard, let your boss or manager know immediately. If they don’t take action, you have the right to file a complaint with OSHA, which will begin an investigation.
You have the right to a safe and healthful workplace.
This post is printed with permission.
About the Author: Dan Matthews is a writer, content consultant and conservationist. While Dan writes on a variety of topics, he loves to focus on the topics that look inward on mankind that help to make the surrounding world a better place to reside. When Dan isn’t working on new content, you can find him with a coffee cup in one hand and searching for new music in the other.