Workplace injuries and fatalities are a persistent and growing problem. While non-fatal injuries (including illnesses) are down 25% from an all-time high of 3.5 million in 2009, since 2016 recorded injuries have begun edging up again. Even worse, workplace safety fatalities – borne disproportionately by men – are at their highest level since 2007.
The sectors most likely to experience problems are manufacturing, transportation and warehousing, construction and retail trade, the same sectors that have witnessed some of their first significant job growth since the Great Recession Some analysts fear that America’s job growth trend, while welcome, could be coming at the expense of improved workplace safety training.
Slips and falls continue to be the leading source of workplace injury, including falls from ladders and roofs, especially on construction sites. Another common problem is injury due to impact with heavy moving equipment. In manufacturing plants and oil refiners, toxic fumes from dangerous chemicals and hazardous waste contamination are an ever-present threat. And in recent years, there’s been a noticeable up-tick in workplace substance abuse, including methamphetamine and opioid addiction, which can further undermine workplace safety observance.
All employers should be concerned about these trends. Unsafe workplaces undermine employee morale and major accidents can damage a company’s public reputation. Moreover, lost work days and hospitalizations undermine productivity and the mounting cost of workplace compensation – and in some cases, employee lawsuits – can cripple a company financially.
Most companies are well aware of the need to protect the health and safety of their workers. But there’s always more to be done. Slips and falls are most commonly due to an undetected spill of a liquid or a recently mopped floor. Construction workers may use an unsecured ladder or work on roofs without the proper safeguards. Toxic chemicals are improperly stored and air quality is insufficiently monitored. The pace and stress of work may lead employees to take stimulants just to keep awake. In some industries, like firefighting and law enforcement, sleep deprivation leads to vehicle crashes, or in the case of nursing, to sloppy medical practices, endangering the public as well as workers.
In some industries that employ foreign-born workers, both legal and undocumented, language and cultural barriers may further undermine workplace safety. Employees may not speak English well while their co-workers and supervisors only speak English. Work team miscommunication over proper workplace procedures has been cited as an important factor fueling injuries in manufacturing and construction, as well as in fire-fighting, where split second decisions can mean life or death.
The range of potential hazards is so vast that no one solution exists. In fact, in some cases, companies are unaware of or simply sloppy in their workplace safety monitoring. In other cases, they may be deliberately cutting corners due to a cynical cost calculation: the fine they might receive for a safety violation – assuming it’s detected – is far less than the cost of full-scale remediation.
Regardless of their specific circumstances, there are some commonsense workplace safety rules and procedures that all companies should follow. These are inexpensive to implement, will reduce the likelihood of injury and could limit their liability in the event of an unfortunate accident.
Coggno offers a comprehensive workplace safety training package that can be integrated into any company’s employee training program. The package, which costs just $70.00 includes 97 workplace safety training courses that cover a full range of topics from handling toxic chemical and polluted water to slip and fall prevention measures. Individual courses can be purchased separately at $12.95 each. Each course addresses a specific topic with engaging and interactive presentations, delivering practical advice and clear instructions that trainees will remember long after their training is complete.
Remember: No company is too small or limited in its operations to ignore the issue of workplace safety. Smaller companies may be tempted to skip this step and can pay dearly for it. While unexpected accidents do happen, no employee should ever be seriously injured or lose his or her life due to a workplace incident. Investing in workplace safety is one of the clearest signs that a company genuinely cares about the welfare of its valued employees. Tapping into Coggno’s wealth of online safety training expertise can help ensure that your company is fully protected from potential sources of harm.
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