Reduce Liability Risk with Preventive Workplace Safety Measures

Posted: 22nd May 2017 16:16

Jose Martin Sandoval was helping Qualcomm upgrade a main circuit breaker when an arc flash set him on fire, burning 35 percent of his body. He had been told the system would be turned off, but it wasn’t. He spent a month in the hospital and racked up $1 million in bills. Now Qualcomm owes him $7 million, even though Sandoval himself was found minimally negligent for not heeding safety warnings and not verifying the system was off, a jury ruled.

Don’t wait until this type of expensive lawsuit happens to your company. Here are some proactive steps you can take to ensure that your workers are safe and to keep your company safe from liability claims.

Perform a Hazard Assessment

Doing a hazard assessment of high-risk jobs is one of the best ways to establish proper procedures to prevent injuries, says the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Prioritize jobs that have the highest injury or illness rates and those with the highest potential for serious problems.

Get your employees involved in the review process, since they have the most hands-on familiarity with occupational hazards. Review your company’s accident history, including incidents where injuries were prevented after almost occurring. Conduct a preliminary review with employees to identify issues, troubleshoot solutions and take immediate steps to prevent any imminent risks. List and prioritize jobs that have the highest hazard risks and address these accordingly. Outline the steps involved in high-risk tasks in order to systematically identify and debug potential risks.

Create a Safe Environment

Taking steps to make your workplace environment safer will help prevent the most common types of injuries. The most common type of workplace injuries come from falls. These can be prevented by taking steps such as keeping pathways free of debris, cleaning up spills immediately, taping down loose rugs, keeping electrical cords away from walkways and providing protective equipment such as body harnesses for employees who work on ladders.

Prevent overexertion injuries by providing moving equipment such as dollies, by training employees how to lift properly and by posting signs that demonstrate proper lifting technique. Prevent injuries from falling objects by making sure items are stacked safely, making sure equipment such as cranes and hoist wires are in proper working order and providing hardhats and other proper protective equipment.

Design workstations so that computers and chairs are positioned properly to avoid ergonomic injuries. Avoid an expensive mesothelioma lawsuit by making sure building contractors follow OSHA guidelines, using engineering controls to reduce airborne risks, providing safety equipment to workers who face asbestos exposure and following practices to reduce exposure of at-risk workers. For further information, you can contact a mesothelioma attorney.

Implement Safety Training

Effective safety training is essential for maintaining a safe workplace. Organizations such as the National Safety Council provide OSHA compliance training, which should be considered minimal safety training. Beyond this basic training, you can also enroll your staff in specialized safety courses on topics such as fall prevention and ergonomic safety. Safety training for specific equipment such as forklift training should also be required for employees who use or work near such equipment. Specialized training is also available for managers and for employees who wish to pursue safety-related career paths.

Discourage Harassment

Harassment lawsuits can be just as costly as injury lawsuits. Avoid harassment suits by making a leadership commitment to a no-tolerance policy, supported by upper management and implemented through strong policies and procedures. Create a clear reporting process so that employees know exactly who to go to in order to report harassment. This process should include an explicit policy prohibiting retaliation against employees who report harassment. Policies should also lay out a clear investigative process specifying how investigations will be conducted and what actions will be taken based upon the results of investigation. Implement your policy by incorporating it into your employee handbook, onboarding training and managerial training.