There’s a widely circulated claim that 90% of all workplace injuries are the result of unsafe acts. This claim is often used to support behavior-based safety programs, popular due to their simplicity, their low cost, and their ability to seamlessly integrate with any workplace environment. Despite its popularity, this claim is not true, and behavior-based safety programs should be the last line of defense, not the first.
In the United States, 2.4 million of the 16.2 million emergency department admissions in 2019 were the result of workplace-related injuries, suggesting that up to 15% of hospital capacity was being taken up as a result of unsafe business environments and practices. In 2022, with hospitals still stretched to capacity as a result of the COVID crisis, it’s important that businesses do their part to reduce workplace injuries, keeping employees safe while preserving valuable medical resources for others.
Risk and Exposure
Rather than blaming workplace injuries on reckless actions, it’s better to use a more holistic model to understand what happens when someone gets injured on the job. Injuries are the result of a hazard in the workplace, whether it’s heavy machinery, hazardous materials, or simply gravity. Injuries happen when employees are exposed to these risks. The longer employees are exposed to a risk, the more likely it is that they will be injured.
Responsible employers can mitigate these risks with engineering controls, warnings, training, and protective equipment, but in many cases, the best answer is to limit exposure as much as possible. In other words, effective solutions tend to live upstream of the proximate causes of workplace injuries. Avoiding workplace injury starts with a system of best practices that keeps employees well out of the way of danger and a workplace culture of safety first, even over deadlines and productivity goals.
Hiring a Professional
Businesses rely on workers’ compensation insurance to help stymie the financial risk of personal injury claims. To help increase the safety of employees on the job, some businesses turn to third-party service providers like Voxel, an AI-driven surveillance system that helps notify employees and managers of risks in real-time. When employees get injured, they also have the right to turn to professional help to navigate the complex legal waters of workplace-related injuries.
Workers who have been injured on the job should immediately consult with a personal injury lawyer to go over their options and begin the process of gathering evidence to make a claim. A local lawyer will have the required experience with the laws in your state, the connections and knowledge to thoroughly investigate the issue, and the legal power to get things done. Most importantly, many personal injury lawyers are happy to begin the process for a very small cost, with the first consultation often being free.
Keeping Hospitals Clear
The COVID pandemic has inundated hospitals worldwide with waves of patients, making resources and care scarce for those in need. While the United States seems to be in a period of some respite, hospitals in Ireland are coping with incredible amounts of pressure, resulting in outbreaks of violence against nurses. In the United States, about 4.6 million people have been admitted to hospitals as a result of COVID between August 2020 and May 2022, or about 2.6 million people per year. This is number is shockingly similar to the 2.4 million yearly hospital admissions due to workplace injury.
Eliminating workplace injury altogether may not be entirely realistic, but doing our part to keep workers safe and keep hospitals clear could have a similar effect on our healthcare resources as eliminating COVID. By mitigating risks and exposure, leveraging professionals to help improve safety, and putting measures into place to help prevent overexertion and repetitive stress injuries, today’s businesses can have a big, compound impact on the health and safety of our population.