Injury Prevention in the Workplace: Staying Safe Is Better for Everyone
California law (Section 3700 of the California Labor Code) requires all employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ compensation insurance pays financial benefits to employees injured at work or with work-related illnesses.
Employers and employees may sometimes disagree about whether an injury or illness is work-related—but those disagreements come after the fact. One thing everyone can agree on is that it’s better to prevent injuries and keep everyone safe in the first place.
Although a worker who breaks a leg on the job can collect workers’ compensation benefits—such as payments for medical treatment and lost wages—they’d probably prefer to avoid the pain and disruption such an injury causes.
And although workers’ compensation insurance pays for the employee’s medical bills and other benefits, the employer still must cope with the accident’s effects on workplace morale and productivity.
If you were injured at work, the Bakersfield workers’ compensation lawyers of Chain | Cohn | Clark can help you with any difficulties in filing a compensation claim. But we’re also committed to promoting safety in the workplace for all Californians, which is why we are offering the following safety tips for both employers and employees.
A Safe Workplace: An Employer’s Responsibility
Employers have clear responsibilities under the law with regard to their employees:
- Both federal and California law make it clear that all workers have a fundamental right to a safe workplace. Section 6400 of the California Labor Code states: “Every employer shall furnish employment and a place of employment that is safe and healthful for the employees therein.”
- Section 6401.7 of the California Labor Code adds an additional responsibility: “Every employer shall establish, implement, and maintain an effective injury prevention program.” The law goes on to stipulate that the program should be written out and gives details on what should be included.
Preventing Workplace Injuries
It’s common to associate workplace injuries with industries that involve physical labor and large machinery—like construction, manufacturing, or agriculture—and it’s true that some industries are more prone to workplace accidents. But injuries can happen in any work environment, even in an office full of cubicles and computers. For example:
- Sedentary work, like sitting at a desk all day, can lead to neck and back injuries.
- Repetitive motion, like typing or using a computer mouse, can lead to tendonitis or carpal tunnel syndrome. Chain | Cohn | Clark workers’ compensation attorneys James Yoro and Beatriz Trejo wrote an article for the Kern Business Journal with tips on preventing these “cumulative trauma” injuries.
- Any job that requires moderate lifting can result in injury if proper lifting techniques aren’t used.
- Little-known workers’ compensation claims, such as a slip and fall in the office parking lot or a diagnosed mental disorder predominantly caused by events at work, still count as workplace injuries.
So, these safety tips for the workplace are for all of us, not just for those who wear hard hats and steel-toed boots.
Safety Tips for Work: Employees
Your employer is legally required to maintain a safe work environment, but it’s still wise to look out for your own safety. Take time to familiarize yourself with your rights as a worker by reading publications from Cal/OSHA, the agency that oversees workplace safety in California.
Industries and workplaces are unique, so it’s likely that there are worker safety tips that apply specifically to your own place of employment. But here are six broadly applicable worker safety tips that everyone can put to use:
- Report unsafe work conditions. If you feel comfortable doing so, tell your employer. If you want to remain anonymous, you can file a confidential complaint with Cal/OSHA.
- If your employer has safety procedures, follow them. Even if you’re skilled and confident, don’t take shortcuts on proper procedures. If your work requires protective gear, use it.
- Keep walkways, entrances, and exits clear of clutter.
- Take regular breaks from sedentary work to move around or stretch. Give yourself breaks from repeated motion, too.
- Learn how to maintain good posture when sitting at a desk for long periods of time.
- Learn and use proper lifting techniques. If you need to move something heavy, move it with a buddy rather than lifting it on your own.
Safety Tips for Work: Employers
Employers often take a reactive approach to health and safety practices in the workplace, paying close attention only after an adverse incident has occurred. But there are several benefits to be gained from proactively ensuring employees stay safe.
- Accidents are costly—in human terms and in terms of a company’s productivity, profitability, and reputation.
- Workers are happier and less likely to look for other employment when job conditions are safe.
- Repeated workers’ compensation insurance claims are likely to cause your premiums to increase.
So, if you’re an employer looking to embrace your duty to provide a safe workplace, here are five tips to implement:
- Create an injury prevention program that does more than satisfy your legal responsibility. Spend time on hazard identification and risk assessment and establish workplace safety guidelines.
- Involve management and employees in creating and administering your safety program. Employees on a factory floor often know more about potential hazards than managers ensconced in their offices.
- Set up employee safety training programs to ensure that everyone knows how to fulfill their job duties safely.
- Create an atmosphere in which employees not only feel safe to report potential hazards but are even encouraged to do so.
- Take action to mitigate hazards as soon as they are discovered.
Accidents Happen: Bakersfield Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Can Help
If we pay attention to safety in the workplace and implement the tips in this blog, we can prevent many workplace injuries. However, accidents still happen, and when they do, workers’ compensation insurance provides a necessary safety net. If you’re injured on the job, the workers’ compensation system should provide benefits like:
- Medical care
- Lost wages
- Disability payments
- Job retraining
However, the actual process of filing a workers’ compensation claim can be bewildering, and your employer or the insurance company may drag their feet during the process. It’s important to be aware of these and other situations when it’s a good idea to contact a work injury attorney.
The experienced workers’ compensation lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Clark are available to help you navigate the messy claims process and get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation review of your case.