Workplace accidents – although an inescapable fact of life – are nonetheless avoidable in many cases. Certain industries are more accident-prone than others, but every industry has safety protocols in place to guard against the most obvious and immediate dangers. Employers have an obligation to provide their workforce with the safest work conditions possible and to take potential dangers seriously. However, accidents at work often still persist in spite of adequate precautions.
When a worker becomes injured on the job they may be entitled to Workers’ Compensation, which provides partial pay and medical benefits while an employee recovers at home or in the hospital. In order to establish that Workers’ Compensation benefits are available, the injury has to be a direct result of the employee’s job duties. An accident can stem from many critical errors, including but not limited to:
- Inadequate training: When employees are not trained and certified to perform a dangerous task or work with dangerous equipment or substances, they not only endanger themselves but also their coworkers. An employee should be well-versed in and certified to complete all aspects of their job. Moreover, new employees must be closely supervised until they have demonstrated that they are capable of performing their job in a safe manner.
- Negligent hiring: Similar in nature to inadequate training, negligent hiring occurs when an employer hires or assigns an employee to perform a task that they are clearly unqualified or unable to perform. An employer whose workforce is routinely exposed to danger must maintain rigorous standards when selecting a candidate to fill an open position.
- Unsafe work conditions: According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) millions of Americans may be working in unsafe work conditions. Machinery must be fully operational and must go unused if in need of repairs. Similarly, hazardous materials must be maintained and handled in accordance with governmental guidelines. Unsafe work conditions must be immediately reported to a supervisor and – if no action is taken – OSHA.
- Failure to mitigate known dangers: Certain workers are at an obvious disadvantage when it comes to workplace safety, such as those who must perform their work at a substantial height from the ground. Employers must provide these workers with safety harnesses and hard hats. Although protective gear may not prevent a fall from happening, it can lessen the likelihood that a worker who falls will be seriously injured.
- Poorly maintained work environment: A cluttered or dimly lit workspace can quickly lead to employee injury. When a worker is unable to see an obstruction in their path, they are at an increased risk of suffering a slip and fall accident on the job. All potential tripping hazards must be safely stowed away from where employees will be working.
- Rushing: When an employee falls behind and a deadline is approaching they may face pressure from a manager or supervisor to complete the task quickly – no matter the cost. Increased productivity must never come at the expense of worker safety, however. When an employee feels rushed they may skip over steps designed to ward off potential danger, such as mandatory rest periods or the proper disposal of hazardous waste.