NASE Health News

Advice and information on small-business health coverage.


Is Your Workplace A Danger Zone?

Friday, October 30, 2009
In June 2007, the results of a National Safety Council (NSC) injury report sent shivers up the spines of public health officials.

Deaths and injuries from poisonings, falls and other accidents were on the rise, the organization warned. And although such accidents are highly preventable, a second NSC study—published in October 2007—showed that nearly one-third of Americans don’t believe anything can be done to stop them.

The numbers are staggering. The U.S. Home Safety Council reports that about 20,000 people die each year and 21 million medical visits are made annually as a result of home accidents.

Workplaces can be dangerous too: 5,400 employees died from a work-related injury in 2007, and more than 4 million workers had a nonfatal injury or illness, reports the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Fortunately, prevention isn’t complicated or expensive.

Preventing Disaster In The Workplace
The following tips can help protect you, your staffers and potentially any customers who visit your facility:
  • Slip and fall accidents are the most common source of workplace injury. Be vigilant about maintaining safe, clean, dry floors and eliminating all clutter. Add lighting to dimly lit areas.
  • Reduce the risk of office fires by making your space a no-smoking zone.
  • Keep computer and other equipment cords and cables out of pathways; tape down loose cords. 
  • Make sure printers, shredders and other electrical equipment are turned off and unplugged before you attempt to fix a jam or make other repairs. 
  • Designate fire escape routes for every part of the building. If you have an employee with a physical handicap, the escape strategy should include plans for assisting him or her. Conduct a fire drill twice a year. 
  • Send one or two employees to the Red Cross’s safety courses (www.redcross.org) so that there’s always someone on duty who can perform CPR and other lifesaving skills.
  • Prevent injuries caused by lifting, carrying and otherwise handling objects. Encourage workers to use carts to move heavy objects and to work in teams when possible. Teach safe lifting practices, using the legs, not the back.
  • If employees drive on the job, reduce the risk of accidents by enforcing strict bans on using cell phones while on the road and consuming alcohol before driving.
Put accident prevention rules in writing. Ask everyone to read and initial a copy.

Encourage a culture of cooperation so every staffer responds to improve unsafe conditions, rather than saying “it’s not my job.” Ask employees to help you monitor the building and invite them to make safety recommendations.

You can get help with workplace safety and training from the Red Cross. Go to http://workplace.redcrossstore.org for these and other resources:
  • Emergency preparedness kits and supplies
  • First aid kits and supplies
  • First aid and CPR training materials
  • Health and safety training materials

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