The workplace can be a dangerous environment if not properly cared for and maintained, leading to a wide range of injuries, some of which might result in an employee’s inability to return to work. Employers have an obligation to ensure the workplace is safe to prevent these unnecessary and avoidable injuries, as well as to avoid potential fines for non-compliance. Although many of us typically associate hazardous work environments with factories, warehouses, or construction sites, any workplace can cause injuries if certain safety practices are ignored, even in a traditional office setting.
Here are some safety tips employers and employees can benefit from:
- Stop slips, trips, and falls from happening: These types of accidents are among the most common non-fatal occupational injuries employees suffer while on the job, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. To help prevent these accidents, employers should choose appropriate floorings, such as cement or ceramic tile, that can hold up to the conditions anticipated in that specific environment. Employers should also ensure that:
- All spills and leaks are cleaned
- Keep aisles and exits clear
- Damaged, ripped, or worn flooring is replaced
- Anti-slip flooring is installed in areas that cannot be cleaned
- Drip pans and guards are used
The workplace should also be free of projecting nails, splinters, holes, or loose boards.
- Eliminate fire hazards: Employees should keep unnecessary combustible materials from accumulating in the work area and all combustible waste should be stored in appropriate receptacles. Other fire-safety precautions include:
- Only keep amounts of combustible materials that are necessary for the job and, when unneeded, store them in the assigned area.
- All quick-burning and flammable materials should be stored in designated locations, away from ignition sources.
- Try to avoid contaminating clothing with flammable liquids. If clothing contamination occurs, however, change clothes.
- Ensure that all passageways and fire doors are free of obstructions and that all stairwell doors are kept closed. Never store items in stairwells as this presents a major safety hazard.
- Keep combustible materials at least 18 inches away from automatic sprinklers, fire extinguishers, and sprinkler controls. While this is required, 24 to 36 inches is recommended.
- All hazards in electrical areas must be reported and fixed as quickly as possible.
- Control dust: Dust might not seem like a big deal, but an accumulation of more than 0.8 mm that covers 5% of a room’s surface can pose a significant explosion hazard. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), vacuuming is the preferred method of cleaning, though sweeping and water wash-downs are other acceptable methods. For inaccessible or unsafe surfaces, dust should be cleaned using compressed air or steam. Dust is not only unhealthy for employees but can also affect certain equipment and the quality of products.
- Avoid tracking materials: Some of the materials employees work with can be hazardous and, if work-area mats are cloth or sticky, it is important they be kept cleaned or maintained if materials are spilled. This will help keep them from spreading to other work areas or homes. To avoid cross-contamination, separate cleaning protocols might also be necessary. If employees are working with toxic materials, make sure they do not wear their work clothes at home.
- Prevent objects from falling: Falling objects can be easily avoided if boxes and materials are stacked straight up and down and if heavier objects are kept on lower shelves. Items should also never be kept on the edges of desks and tables or stacked in areas where employees walk especially aisles.
- Create written rules and guidelines: It is much easier for employees and employers to understand and follow policies that are formal and explicitly defined in writing. Written rules provide both a reminder and unequivocal clarity regarding what is expected of everyone when it comes to maintaining a safe work environment. Make sure everyone is aware of and follows the proper procedures.
If you sustained injuries in a workplace accident, the workers’ compensation attorneys at Hyland + Padilla PLLC, are experienced in helping employees recover damages for their injuries and losses. Our Durham legal team is passionate when it comes to the pursuit of justice and will commit our time and energy toward reaching a positive resolution for your case.
If an employee returns to work after being injured, but still experiences wage loss, he or she can still receive compensation at a lesser amount. Our experienced team will answer any questions you might have, investigate your accident, and will not hesitate to represent your case in court. We are not intimidated by big insurance companies.
Get started on your case today and give us a call to schedule a free consultation. Our staff is fluent in Spanish.