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Preventing workplace accidents is a multi-step process

The good news is that the number injuries on the job have declined. However, the number of fatalities is at an all-time high – 4,821 across the country last year – which is the highest it has been since 2008. While many companies in California focus on personal protective equipment as a means of reducing injuries, some feel that those measures are a last resort and that there is much that can be done to prevent workplace accidents before a worker dons that equipment.

The first step a manager or employer can do is to eliminate hazards in the first place. Overexertion, falls and being struck by objects or equipment are the most common ways in which an employee can be hurt. If an employer can evaluate work areas and dangerous equipment, he or she may be able to alter the work environment to make it safer.

Adding engineering controls, such as guardrails or platforms, may eliminate certain situations in which an accident might take place. An employer can also warn workers of dangers with appropriate signs and labels. Finally, there is little that can replace solid safety training for employees. Workers in California who understand the dangers of their work environment and how to avoid those dangers are less likely to injure themselves or others on the job.

When these precautions are taken, personal protective equipment becomes one more layer of safety rather than the most essential element in preventing workplace accidents. Nevertheless, the trends show that accidents and injuries are likely to continue to happen on the job. When they do, many turn to an experienced workers' compensation lawyer to help them claim the benefits they deserve.

Source: shrm.org, "A Layered Approach to Mitigating Workplace Safety Risks", Lisa Nagele-Piazza, Dec. 13, 2016

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