June is National Safety Month and The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C., is happy to share resources to help our clients and communities stay healthy and safe.
As part of National Safety Month, the National Safety Council designates a specific safety topic for each week in June. These focus features are intended to educate the public about ways they can prioritize safety at work. This year’s topics are:
- Week 1: Musculoskeletal Disorders
- Week 2: Workplace Impairment
- Week 3: Injury Prevention
- Week 4: Slips, Trips & Falls
National Safety Month is a critical campaign designed to reduce the overwhelming number of injuries and deaths that occur on U.S. worksites. According to the BLS, private industry employers reported over 2.1 million nonfatal injuries in 2020 and 4.764 fatal work injuries. Some key facts about the data:
- A worker died from a work-related injury every 111 minutes in 2020.
- Transportation and construction workers accounted for nearly half of all fatalities.
- Exposure to harmful substances or environments caused 672 worker fatalities in 2020, the highest figure since 2011.
- The rate of work-related illnesses increased from 12.4 cases per 10,000 full-time equivalent workers 2019 to 55.9 cases in 2020.
Week 1 of National Safety Month focuses on musculoskeletal disorders, the most common workplace injury. MSDs can be caused by various movements, such as bending, climbing, crawling, reaching, twisting, overexertion, or repetitive motion. Common MSDs include back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, hernia, and strains, sprains, and tears.
According to the CDC, job duties commonly associated with MSDs include:
- Lifting of heavy objects
- Daily exposure to whole body vibration
- Routine overhead work
- Work with the neck in chronic flexion position
- Repetitive forceful tasks
Preventing MSDs requires a comprehensive approach to workplace safety. Some important precautions include:
- Engineering controls, including changes to the way materials are transported (i.e. using mechanical assist devices to relieve heavy load lifting) and changes to workstation layout.
- Administrative controls, such as reductions of shift length or overtime work, changes to job rules and procedures such as scheduled breaks, rotating workers through physically demanding jobs, training on techniques that can ease task demands.
- Personal protective equipment, including proper footwear, braces, back belts, and more.
- Ergonomics programs that help reduce stress and eliminate disorders associated with overuse and repetition.
The National Safety Council has teamed up with a number of major employers for a first-of-its-kind program designed to better understand MSDs in the workplace. Findings from this program will help build upon tools and resources for prevention.
Substance abuse rates spiked because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and BLS data show worker fatalities caused by unintentional overdose increased by nearly 10% in 2020 compared to the previous year. But impairment is more than solely substance abuse; it can include anything that impedes a person’s ability to function normally or safely. Examples include:
- Chemical substances such as alcohol
- Physical factors such as fatigue
- Social factors such as stress
- Mental distress and depression
Some helpful resources for addressing impairment in the workplace:
- Impairment Recognition and Response Training
- Promoting Employee Mental Health and Wellbeing
- Recognizing Workplace Opioid Use
- Ending Addiction Stigma in the Workplace
- Address Fatigue in the Workplace
In 2020, more than 4 million workplace injuries were serious enough to require medical treatment. To reduce this astronomical number, workers and employers need to make injury prevention their top priority. This can involve
- Identifying hazards
- Assessing risks
- Creating preparedness and emergency plans
- Fighting fatigue and impairment
- Ensuring safe and fully operational equipment
- Providing and using proper PPE
Injury prevention begins with addressing the various hazards in a workplace. You can find additional information and helpful injury prevention tips for various workplace hazards on our blogs:
- Warm Weather Work Safety Tips
- Workplace Burn Injury Prevention
- Construction Worker Safety Tips
- Electrical Hazard Safety Tips
- Eye Injury Prevention in the Workplace
Slips, Trips & Falls
Falls are a leading cause of injury and death on U.S. worksites, whether they’re from heights or the same level. According to the NSC:
- 805 workers died in falls in 2020
- 211,640 were injured badly enough to require days off
- 136 workers were killed in falls on the same level
- Construction workers are most at risk for fatal falls from height (over 7x the rate of other industries)
Whether work is performed from a ladder, roof, or scaffolding, taking precautions can prevent falls and protect workers. Fall prevention tips from OSHA:
- Plan ahead by determining how the job will be done, what task will be involved, and what safety equipment will be required.
- Provide the right equipment and PPE, including fall protection, ladders, scaffolds, and personal fall arrest systems (PFAS).
- Train every worker on proper set-up and safe use of equipment, how to recognize hazards, and steps to perform work duties safely.
Reacting After a Workplace Accident
Even workers who take every possible precaution them can suffer harm in workplace accidents, especially when others are negligent. When accidents do happen on the job, it’s important to remain calm, call for help, and seek immediate medical attention.
In addition to addressing your injuries, you’ll also want to carefully consider your rights and ability to recover needed compensation. This includes taking steps to notify your employer of your injury and coordinate with them to obtain information about their workers’ compensation insurance.
In some cases, especially in those involving construction accidents, New York Labor Law may provide injured workers with the right to seek compensation through civil claims – which can allow an injured worker to recover compensation that isn’t available under workers’ comp. An experienced attorney can provide the counsel and guidance to help you navigate this process.
Our Attorneys Can Help
As a firm that’s been providing legal representation to injured victims, workers, and families across NYC since 1983, The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C., knows the importance of being prepared. Unfortunately, we also know accidents can and do happen.
If you or someone you love has been hurt on the job or by another’s negligence, our award-winning attorneys are here to help. Our firm has recovered over $500 million in compensation for clients and represents victims in both workers’ compensation proceedings and civil personal injury claims.
To discuss a potential case, call or contact us online.