June marks National Safety Month, an annual event discussing the importance of safety in the workplace. Due to COVID-19, the National Safety Council (NSC) is celebrating this year’s National Safety Month by providing resources online about a variety of safety topics. These topics aim to improve working conditions, leading to fewer injuries. Those injured at work should contact a Workers’ Compensation lawyer to help recover damages for lost wages and medical bills.
Importance of Safety at Work
Injuries in the workplace are costly for both workers and their employers. According to Safety Works, the United States spends $170 billion a year on work-related injuries. All fields are affected by workplace injuries, which is why National Safety Month is an important event for all workers, regardless of the field. Common injuries include:
- Slip and falls
- Sprains or strains
- Being struck by an object
- Pain or soreness
Although all fields deal with injuries, several fields have higher injury rates. According to the NSC, the five fields with the most reported injuries include:
- Service workers, including firefighters and police officers
- Transportation and shipping
- Manufacturing and production
- Installation, maintenance, and repair
An injury to a worker can be devastating. Some individuals who sustained a work injury suffer from chronic pain, an inability to work, disability, high medical bills, mental instability, emotional trauma, and even relationship strain. This can ultimately put an individual in a difficult financial and emotional situation. Victims of a work accident should contact a lawyer to help recover from these losses.
Jobs should make safety a top priority. Fewer injuries lead to less production time lost, less property damage, and ultimately saves the organization money. Similarly, prioritizing safety in the workplace leads to better job retention and a positive work culture. It is also important that workers feel safe and healthy while on the job.
What is National Safety Month?
National Safety Month is used to highlight four different elements of workplace safety. These topics often change each year. This year’s topics include:
- Mental health
- Building a safety culture
While discussing each topic, the NSC distributes information and highlights helpful resources. Ultimately, the goal is to prevent work injuries through training about best safety practices. To learn more about National Safety Month, it is important to delve further into the event’s highlighted topics. This is helpful for individuals looking to gain a deeper understanding of workplace hazards and safety practices.
Why is Mental Health Important for Workers?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 18.3 percent of the U.S. adult population reported a mental illness in 2016. Mental health disorders include:
- Obsessive compulsive disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
The cost of mental illness in the U.S. is high. The CDC claims that the U.S. could save billions of dollars per year by combining both medical and behavioral health care services for its citizens. This is one indication that employers should begin prioritizing mental health at work as much as physical health. This could help an organization save money in the long run. Employees who suffer from mental illness have a particularly difficult burden. This burden leads the individual to be at a higher risk for work-related accidents. According to the CDC, depression has a huge impact on an individual’s ability to perform physical job tasks and their cognitive function. This impairment can lead to work accidents and injuries.
Employers should be proactive in preventing injuries resulting from mental illness. To do this, employers should make mental health tools available for workers. They should also keep information about mental illness readily available, including symptoms. The World Health Organization also states that developing the worker’s strengths helps protect their mental health. Ultimately, this promotes a positive work culture, helping individuals get the help they need.
What is Ergonomics?
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are some of the most frequently reported injuries leading to lost work time, which include:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Workers often develop MSDs from repetitive motions, having poor posture, or sitting in the same position every day. Many individuals that work in an office setting are susceptible to MSDs. This is because many office workers suffer from strains due to poor posture, sitting at a desk, and spending most of the workday typing on a computer.
One way to prevent work-related MSDs is to use ergonomics in the workplace. Ergonomics is the practice of adjusting a job to fit the physical needs of an employee. Since employers are responsible for their workers’ health and safety, there should be an emphasis on ergonomics. Examples of ergonomics include:
- Using a chair that is height-adjustable
- Using a desktop computer instead of a laptop
- Using carts to transport heavy objects
- Using machinery to lift heavy items
Employers should also encourage job rotation to avoid repetitive motions. Similarly, employees should feel comfortable taking short breaks to avoid developing MSDs. This can help avoid injury, leading to fewer missed days and doctors’ visits.
How Can Employees Build a Safety Culture at Work?
In order to help prevent work accidents and Workers’ Compensation claims, an organization should always update its safety policies; however, it should also focus on building a strong safety culture. A company’s safety culture is a collection of the staff’s attitudes and behaviors regarding workplace safety. Having a positive safety culture leads to better job retention, better productivity, and fewer injuries.
To improve a company’s safety culture, the employer must be proactive. There should be open communication between workers and employers. One way to do this is through monthly safety discussions. During the discussion, employees should be able to voice their concerns, ask questions, and learn about the best safety practices. This helps prevent work accidents due to confusion.
Companies building a safety culture should highlight the importance of training. Training is an important way to keep employers and workers on the same page. It allows an employee to understand job hazards and how to avoid injury. When an individual is informed, they can make better decisions and will be better prepared for a crisis. This helps to avoid preventable accidents, ultimately promoting safety.
Driving Safely While Working
Transportation is an important industry; however, it is among the top five fields with the most reported injuries, according to the NSC. This is because driving, although familiar, is dangerous. In fact, over 40,000 people died in car accidents in 2017 alone. Many vehicle-related deaths are preventable through defensive driving techniques.
Much of a person’s life is spent driving; therefore, it is important for employers to place an emphasis on safe driving practices, even in fields that are unrelated to transportation. To do this, an employer can offer resources, including defensive driving training or programs to treat alcohol or drug abuse. Vehicular safety should also be discussed during monthly safety seminars, including the importance of wearing a seat belt and the impact of distracted driving. Negligent driving behaviors are big contributors of motor vehicle accidents. Therefore, all employers should discuss best driving practices when possible. Throughout June, and all year round, workers and employers should advocate for safety practices at work.
Bucks County Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. Advocate for Safety in the Workplace
If you suffered a work injury, contact our Bucks County Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. Injuries that result from work accidents often lead to financial issues, including medical bills and lost wages. Contacting a lawyer can help a victim receive the benefits they deserve. For a free consultation, contact us online or call us at 888-999-1962. Located in Philadelphia, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and Pinehurst, North Carolina, we proudly serve clients throughout Pennsylvania.