The reality is that practically all workplace accidents and injuries are preventable and also costly. In fact, according to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), nearly $200 billion per year is spent on workplace accidents, injuries and illnesses. The key to preventing workplace accidents and injuries is effective safety and health management programs.
Safety-health management programs address safety issues within a given workplace and are designed according to federal (OSHA) and state workplace safety requirements. These programs are tailored to specific types of workplaces. In fact, each workplace will have a different program. For instance, a safety-health management program at a bakery in Philadelphia will vary from a program at a shipping container company working at a dock in one of New Jersey’s ports.
Effective programs will include the following:
- employee (management and worker) involvement and commitment,
- periodic worksite analysis,
- training for all employees (management and worker), and
- workplace hazard prevention and control measures.
Employee Commitment and Involvement
The key is developing and communicating a safety-health policy to all employees. This includes both management and workers. In addition, successful employee commitment and involvement often depends on accountability. Employees, especially those in charge, must be held accountable for obeying the rules and taking appropriate corrective measures, as required.
Also, regular safety meetings are necessary. Holding regular workplace safety meetings is one of the most important factors in preventing workplace accidents and injuries, and they are so critical because worksite conditions may change. For instance, on a non-residential commercial construction site in Pennsylvania, daily safety meetings can address weather which affects work conditions and work safety.
Periodic Worksite Analysis
Conducting a worksite analysis is one of the first steps in developing and maintaining a safety-health management program. A proper worksite analysis will involve three separate steps.
1. Conduct actual on-site inspections to identify dangerous conditions and take appropriate corrective actions.
2. Develop a program which allows employees to report dangerous conditions without fear of retaliation.
3. Take time to investigate and determine causes of all accidents as well as near miss events.
Not only is it important to analyze workplace activities for dangerous conditions and hazards, it is also important to re-evaluate worksites on a periodic basis. Workplace conditions change often, and therefore, it is important to adopt appropriate amendments to a safety-health management program.
Legal Rights of Injured Workers in PA & NJ
Workplace accidents and injuries are usually 100% preventable, and in serious injury cases often lead to time lost from work. Injured workers must be informed about their legal rights to workers’ compensation benefits and third party claims. Third party claims may be filed in cases where other, non-employer parties committed some act of negligence which led to a workplace accident. Injured workers can file both types of claims, but are oftentimes misinformed about their legal rights to do so.
In a third party claim, an injured worker in Pennsylvania or New Jersey may be eligible to obtain the following types of financial compensation:
⦁ medical bills (past and future),
⦁ lost wages (past and future),
⦁ miscellaneous out of pocket expenses, and
⦁ pain and suffering (past and future).
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