Safety First

How your business can avoid workplace injuries

By: Kelly Trevino

A workplace injury can be a nightmare for a business to deal with. You have an injured coworker, lost productivity and a probable workman’s compensation claim. As part of its mission, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) encourages and supports best practices by educating consumers, employees and businesses.

Safety should be the most important part of the workplace, as it protects the well-being of employees and it can increase productivity and lower production days lost due to work-related injuries. In 2014, nearly 13,000 American workers were injured a day as a result of workplace accidents, according to the National Safety Council. More than three million injuries or illnesses in the workplace occurred, and nearly half of these injuries required time off work.

Industries most affected by injuries in 2014 included construction, transportation and warehousing and agriculture. In fact, motor vehicle crashes are still the leading cause of work-related deaths. Overall, statewide workplace injuries were estimated to have cost more than $1 billion in lost productivity in 2014, according to the Texas Workforce Commission.

To help prevent accidents in the workplace, BBB serving Central, Coastal and Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin offers the following tips for businesses and workers:

• Install a workplace safety program. A successful safety program depends on spotting hazards early, evaluating their risk and removing or controlling them before harm is done. It is just as important for a business office or a retail store to have a safety program in place as it is for a construction site or warehouse.

• Ensure the workplace is “accident free.” Slips, trips and falls are one of the leading causes of workplace accidents. Most falls in the workplace are caused by wet floors or icy walkways, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Make sure wet floors are clearly marked, and take steps to prevent walkways from icing over. If the workplace is a retail store, for example, be careful when lifting or walking around with heavy objects. Be aware of your surroundings to avoid running into table displays and knocking over shelves or racks that could cause serious injury.

• Set up measures to avoid workplace violence. While no one expects violence in the workplace, it does happen. On-the-job shootings and attacks come from coworkers and outsiders, like robbers. As business owners or managers, it’s important to carefully review security procedures for your business, storefront, employees and customers. Decide if you need security guards. And set up avenues to resolve workplace disputes before they escalate.

• Make sure equipment and infrastructure is in good condition. The main workplace safety and health law in the United States is the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, which requires all private-sector employees to provide a safe workplace, free of hazards, to their employees. According to the National Safety Council, 25 percent of injuries occur when people get struck, caught or crushed in collapsing structure, equipment or other heavy objects. BBB recommends that businesses store heavy objects close to the floor and wear the proper personal protective equipment. Always be aware of moving equipment in your work area.

For more important business advice, visit our website at www.bbb.org/central-texas under the “For Businesses” section, or our independent blog at www.watchyourbuck.com.

Kelly Trevino is the regional director for the Corpus Christi/Victoria area of Better Business Bureau serving Central, Coastal and Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin. She is available for media interviews and speaking engagements. You can reach her by phone at 361-945-7352 or via email at ktrevino@corpuschristi.bbb.org.

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