Workplace accidents are very common in all industries. The latest report, issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, shows that in 2015, there were around 2.9 million non-fatal workplace injuries in the private sector. More than 4.8% of these injuries can be classified as workplace illnesses, which usually means that they require the longer treatment and higher compensation. Such a high number of workplace accidents can be viewed as the result of employer’s failure to introduce the most basic OSHA rules and regulations. In this article, we’ll explain how companies, managers, and employees themselves can prevent workplace accidents and mitigate their consequences.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is the institution that sets and protects the workplace safety standards in the United States since 1970. It allows both employers and employees to receive information and training about the most common hazards in their industries. Employees can also request OSHA to inspect the workplace safety if they spot some irregularities.
The OSHA standards and the Occupational Health and Safety Act from 1970 require employers to provide the safe workplace environment and to regularly check and maintain the work equipment, company offices, and production plants. They are sometimes required to purchase a special safety equipment to protect their workers and to train them to avoid accidents and hazards.
What to do when an accident happens?
Unfortunately, workplace injuries are common, even in the companies that strictly follow the OSHA industry standards and other federal and state rules and regulations. That’s why many companies have detailed plans on how to react to specific accidents. These plans and procedures need to be read to the whole team, and when the accident happens, every employee should know their role. In this article, we’ll share the most common workplace accidents’ procedures that can be applied to all industries.
Step 1: Care for the injured employees first
Employees’ health and safety always come first. That’s why the whole team should immediately assist the injured employee and call 911 if necessary. In less urgent situations, employees can transport the injured colleagues to the medical care facility themselves. Depending on the injuries employees have sustained, they can contact the designated medical professional, provided by the employer or any other doctor in the nearest medical facility.
Step 2: Secure the accident scene
In some cases, the scene of the accident needs to be investigated by OSHA officials, Workers’ Compensation investigators, employees’ lawyer, police or the employers themselves. Employees should also limit the access to the accident scene in order to prevent secondary accidents from happening. By securing the scene and all equipment that was involved in the incident, employees are setting the stage for an honest and independent investigation that will uncover the accident causes and improve the overall workplace safety.
Step 3: Complete all necessary paperwork
A very through paperwork usually follows every workplace accident. The employer should contact the Workers’ Compensation Board and deliver the full accident paperwork in the next 24 hours. They also need to contact the OSHA and fill in the OSHA Form 300. All this is necessary so an injured employee can get the required medical treatment and the rightful financial compensation.
Step 4: Contacting a personal injury lawyer
Injured employees should also contact a personal injury lawyer after the accident. These lawyers can help them to overcome all compensation troubles and make the whole process much less stressful. In cases where employers’ weren’t paying the Workers’ Compensation insurance, personal injury attorneys will help employees to file a lawsuit and claim the compensation that will cover their medical treatment.
Step 5: Return to work
Return to work can be very stressful for the injured employee. That’s why employers need to establish a special Return-to-Work Program that will gradually adapt their daily obligations to the company’s schedule. Recovered employees need some time to get accustomed to the regular working conditions, and in the first few weeks (or even months) they should concentrate on easier and less-demanding tasks. They usually get transitional or modified jobs in the same department, but with much more flexible arrangements and work time.
When it comes to the workplace accidents, prevention is always the best cure. That is why employers should train employees to recognize dangerous situations and help their colleagues in need. By ignoring potential workplace hazards, employees are putting themselves and their coworkers in danger. They should raise the question of workplace safety whenever that’s necessary, and if the employer refuses to improve the work conditions, they should immediately contact the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.