The National Safety Council (NSC) has released a list of its top 7 workplace hazards.
Nothing on the list is particularly earth-shattering, but it all requires review, considering how many workers continue to be injured in accidents that are entirely preventable.
The NSC’s consultants travel the country year-round to conduct workplace safety audits for companies whose leaders want to ensure they are in compliance with not only the industry standards, but the law.
Among the top hazards noted:
- Working at Heights. This is probably not a major shocker. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has long noted that falls to the lower level are a serious problem. In 2014, these incidents accounted for 14 percent of all workplace deaths. Plus, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that two of its most commonly-cited violations during workplace inspections are breaches of its standards relating to ladders and scaffolding. Much of the time, it’s not that employers are willfully trying to break the rules. They just aren’t educated about it. They don’t realize they are responsible for providing fall protection gear or they might not know how to properly hook it up or have a written fall protection process in place.
- Shoddy Housekeeping. Clutter that builds up over time can result in serious safety hazards. Think leaks that result in standing water, contributing to a slip-and-fall. Piles of boxes that block an emergency exit. Over-stacked loads in a warehouse that can block the sprinklers. Sure, many jobs are inherently messy and dirty. But waiting for the nightly or weekly cleaning crews can put workers at risk. The NSC recommends cleaning as you go.
- Electrical Hazards. Blocked breakers are one common problem. Another is the improper use of extension cords. Many inspectors say they see staffers “daisy-chaining” power strips and extension cords to a single device. The consultants noted that while such practices may serve to temporarily assist with, cords that are used this way for weeks or months on end are not only a trip hazard, but a shock hazard. Plus, if they are overdrawing electricity, they can become a fire and burn risk.
- Forklift Danger. Too many workers who operate forklifts do so under enormous pressure to work fast. They are often stressed and distracted. The machine itself is often overloaded. Part of the problem is that employers aren’t addressing the root cause of accidents when they happen. Workers are retrained and then they go through retesting. That’s not a bad thing, but it doesn’t fix the main problem, which is that there often aren’t enough staff or trucks for the workload at hand.
- Lockout/ tagout. Too many companies do not ensure workers are following these procedures. Even those that do may have trouble with equipment failure. Employers need to be alert to the danger, not rush workers to finish potentially dangerous jobs and become familiar with the equipment.
- Chemicals. In some cases, companies don’t realize how dangerous certain chemicals can be even just sitting on a shelf for a year. Companies can help reduce the risk by keeping proper inventory of all chemicals and their expiration dates and amounts. This helps to identify possible points of risk.
- Confined spaces. Most problems with confined spaces can be headed off if employers issue a permit or carry out a proper risk assessment.
If you have been injured at work in North Carolina and are interested in learning more about workers’ compensation benefits, we can help.
If you have been injured at work, contact the Lee Law Offices at 800-887-1965.
7 common workplace safety hazards, May 22, 2016, National Safety Council
More Blog Entries:
Study: Workers’ Comp Opt-Out Creates Barriers to Benefits, Unequal Treatment, No Oversight, May 27, 2016, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Attorney Blog