Workplace accidents are preventable. They are often the result of either unsafe practices or insufficient training. Although negligent management is usually responsible for these issues, it is the workers who face pain and suffering when something goes wrong.
1. Learn Something Everyday
One of the best ways to avoid accidents is to learn something new about the job every day. Even someone with 20 years of experience at the same job can develop better, more efficient processes. When workers understand the mechanics and potential dangers of their role, they’re able to educate others. This creates a self-reinforcing cycle of safety and professional growth.
2. Ask Questions
The best way to learn is to ask questions. Unfortunately, employees in any role are often reluctant to ask questions as they fear it might show they’re not an expert. However, the truth is that asking questions eliminates confusion and leads to better clarity and refined processes for everyone. This, in turn, significantly reduces the risk of accidents.
3. Report Hazards
Before committing to a task, workers should take a moment to identify potential dangers. If new hazards are considered, employees should report them immediately.
- California OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) law requires additional training “whenever the employer is made aware of a new or previously unrecognized hazard.”
As an example, say that an office receptionist received several packages, each weighing more than 50lbs. If they did not have heavy lifting training, they could report the new hazard to their employer. This would decrease the risk of physical injury (and subsequent workers’ comp claim) caused by improper lifting.
4. Use Protective Gear
OSHA demands workers use protective equipment appropriate for their workplace and that the equipment is kept in good condition.
- Protective equipment must be available when the employer identifies hazards that that would endanger a worker’s health. While employers must cover essential safety equipment, procuring non-essential gear may fall to the employee.
Researching what equipment is provided and what is not can potentially prevent accidents. For example, if the employer doesn’t provide sunglasses for an outside job, an employee may want to get their own. Wearing sunglasses significantly reduces glare, which raises visual awareness and increases the likelihood of preventing an accident.
5. Maintain a Clean Workspace
Employees in the culinary industry know this rule all too well. Cleaning while working reduces unnecessary hazards. It makes the area easier to navigate and reduces the risk of tripping or getting cut on sharp surfaces. This tip applies to any occupation. Offices can better manage their cords and furniture. Likewise, construction sites can set schedules to remove rubble and waste products.
6. Avoid Skipping Steps
Many accidents occur when workers try to skip steps either to give themselves less work or because of a time crunch. However, skipping steps is a surefire way to cause preventable accidents and injuries. Workers have a responsibility to follow processes as outlined in their training. If an employee suspects their practices are unsafe (or even reckless), they should file an OSHA report immediately.
7. Report OSHA Violations
Businesses are required to make changes and provide safety equipment to address reported hazards. If they do not, an employee should file an OSHA complaint through the Department of Labor. If an accident occurs because an employer does not address reported hazards, they could face serious penalties. Likewise, the injured worker will have a strong standing in their workers’ compensation claim.