The failure to implement safety programs like confined space and lockout/tagout procedures in workplaces has resulted in countless serious injuries and preventable deaths. Workplace health and safety programs provide a proactive way to manage workplace hazards that can lead to accidents. Workplace safety programs can reduce workers’ compensation claims by as much as 52 percent.
Workplace Safety Programs Save Lives
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) encourages and oversees workplace safety programs that save lives. OSHA works with businesses and employers around the country to implement safety programs in the workplace that prevent on-the-job accidents and protect employees from illness, injury and death. By implementing safety programs with core elements, employers can ensure a safe workplace environment for their workers.
Management plays an important role in workplace safety by making sure all workers are informed on safety regulations and procedures. Management must implement a workplace safety program with clear, written policies and procedures and make sure that all employees have a copy. Regulations must be posted in an area that is accessible and visible to all workers. By establishing specific program goals and resources, management can help to create increased workplace safety.
OSHA encourages workers to participate in workplace safety and report workplace dangers. Workers know about potential hazards that are associated with their jobs. They have the most to gain from a safe work environment and the most to lose from dangerous conditions. Workers in certain occupations and age groups are at greater risk for workplace injuries and fatalities.
One of the main causes of workplace injuries and fatalities is the failure to identify workplace hazards that can harm workers. OSHA safety regulations require employers to identify workplace hazards by performing regular inspections of work areas and equipment. Hazards that can cause falls, severe head injuries, burns, electrical shock, and limb amputations must be taken seriously and fixed immediately. Workplace environments that expose workers to heavy machinery or equipment, toxic chemicals, and flammable liquids are especially dangerous.
OSHA regulations and safety standards promote hazard prevention measures that effectively and permanently protect workers. Employers must eliminate or control all serious workplace hazards that can cause physical harm or death to employees. An effective safety plan should address serious hazards first. If time is needed to eliminate the hazards, interim prevention measures must be implemented to protect workers. Employers should establish a target completion date and track progress to ensure workplace safety.
Education and Training
Proper education and training on workplace safety ensure that workers understand OSHA regulations and procedures. Workers must be aware of workplace hazards and how to identify, prevent, and report them to proper authorities. Specialized training is often provided to workers who face unique or especially dangerous workplace conditions. OSHA provides a variety of on-site and off-site education and training programs around the country.
OSHA’s Alliance Program offers workplace safety information, training, and guidance to all types of businesses, professional and community organizations, and educational institutions. The goal of the program is to promote workplace safety and prevent workplace illnesses, injuries and fatalities.
The Alliance Program raises awareness of workplace safety by training workers on new and revised safety standards and regulations. It addresses workers’ concerns on industry hazards and promotes open discussions on workplace safety and violations. Workers are encouraged to participate in discussions on workplace accidents and injuries, as well as healthcare rights and employer responsibilities. The Alliance Program also helps employers and workers understand basic procedures for filing workers’ compensation claims when on-the-job injuries or fatalities occur.
Despite strict OSHA safety standards, workplace fatalities are still rising. In 2016, there were 5,190 reported fatalities caused by workplace injuries. That figure represents a seven percent increase over the 4,836 deaths reported in 2015, and the highest jump in workplace fatalities since 2010. Reported fatalities occurred in a variety of industries across the country.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, certain occupations pose higher risks for serious workplace injuries and fatalities. Some of the most dangerous jobs in America include long-distance truck drivers, roadway workers, construction workers, utility workers, and industrial warehouse workers. In 2015, the highest number of workplace fatalities resulted from the following:
- Transportation and roadway crashes
- Slip and fall injuries
- Falling objects and equipment
- Explosions and fires
- Exposure to toxic chemicals
- Workplace violence
Roadway workers and construction workers both face very high risks of workplace fatalities. In 2015, deaths for roadway workers accounted for 25 percent of fatal occupational injuries, while deaths for construction workers accounted for 22 percent. The leading causes of death were getting struck by vehicles near the work site, crushed by heavy equipment, and hit by falling objects.