Unbuckled occupants “become a back-seat bullet” in a crash, says Pam Fischer, state highway traffic safety director. In collisions, experts say, unbelted passengers in the back seat continue to move at the same rate of speed as the vehicle they’re in until they hit something — seat back, dashboard, windshield or people in the front seat. Yet many view the back seat as somehow safer.
Accidents are more expensive than most people realize because of the hidden costs. Some costs are obvious — for example, Workers’ Compensation claims which cover medical costs and indemnity payments for an injured or ill worker. These are the direct costs of accidents.
But what about the costs to train and compensate a replacement worker, repair damaged property, investigate the accident and implement corrective action, and to maintain insurance coverage? Even less apparent are the costs related to schedule delays, added administrative time, lower morale, increased absenteeism, and poorer customer relations. These are the indirect costs — costs that aren’t so obvious until we take a closer look.
A national campaign to prevent construction-worker falls was launched recently. The campaign encourages everyone in the construction industry to work safely and use the right equipment to reduce falls. Special emphasis and activity will focus on residential construction contractors and workers.
FACT – FALLS KILL!
Falls are the number one cause of construction-worker fatalities, accounting for one-third of on-the-job injury deaths in the industry.
To turn this problem around, we need to promote the use of fall prevention practices by contractors and construction workers.
Machine safety is critical for worker safety, because machines have many ways to injure workers: Many machines have moving parts, sharp edges, and hot surfaces with the potential to cause severe workplace injuries such as crushed fingers or hands, amputations, burns, or blindness. Safeguards are essential for protecting workers from these preventable injuries. Any machine part, function, or process that might cause injury must be safeguarded. When the operation of a machine may result in a contact injury to the operator or others in the vicinity, the hazards must be eliminated or controlled
In 2010, there were approximately 17.5 million workers less than 24 years of age, and these workers represented 13% of the workforce. Young workers have high occupational injury rates which are in part explained by a high frequency of injury hazards in workplaces where they typically work (e.g. hazards in restaurant settings associated with slippery floors and use of knives and cooking equipment). Inexperience and lack of safety training may also increase injury risks for young workers. And, for the youngest workers, those in middle and high schools, there may be biologic and psychosocial contributors to increased injury rates, such as inadequate fit, strength, and cognitive abilities to operate farm equipment such as tractors.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that approximately 3.3 million serious work-related injuries and about 4,300 fatalities occurred in 2009. The human cost of preventable workplace injuries and deaths is incalculable. However, according to the 2010 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, the direct cost of the most disabling workplace injuries and illnesses in 2008 amounted to $53.42 billion in U.S. workers compensation costs, more than one billion dollars per week.
A Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) is used by chemical manufacturers and importers to convey both the physical hazards pH, flashpoint, flammability, etc. and the health hazards carcinogenicity, teratogenicity, etc. of their chemicals to the end user. MSDSs are a critical component of the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administrations OSHA Hazard Communication Standard. This standard mandates that workers have a right to know what hazards are associated with the chemicals they use in the workplace. Both manufacturers of chemicals and employers with chemicals in their workplace, must be in compliance with this regulation as it is the most often cited violation by OSHA, with fines of more than $70,000 per violation per instance.
One of the best ways to avoid further accidents is to understand how an accident occurred and how to avoid that type of accident in the future. The accident investigation is a tool. The goal is not to lay blame. The goal in an accident investigation is to:
- Satisfy legal requirements (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health? NIOSH, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration?OSHA)
- Find out what happened and determine immediate and underlying or root causes.
- Rethink the safety hazard.
- Introduce ways to prevent a reoccurrence
- Establish training needs.
- An accident, a near miss and an incident should all be investigated.
- Accident investigations are a tool for uncovering hazards that either were missed earlier or require new controls (policies, procedures or personal protective equipment).
- Near-miss reporting and investigation identify and control safety or health hazards before they cause a more serious incident.
- Incident investigations should focus on prevention.
ACCIDENT — an undesired event or sequence of events causing injury, ill-health or property damage.
NEAR MISS — near misses describe incidents where, given a slight shift in time or distance, injury, ill-health or damage easily could have occurred, but didn’t.
INCIDENT — an incident is an unplanned, undesired event that hinders completion of a task and may cause injury or other damage.
In addition to their social costs, workplace injuries and illnesses have a major impact on an employer’s bottom line. It has been estimated that employers pay almost $1 billion per week for direct workers’ compensation costs alone. The costs of workplace injuries and illnesses include direct and indirect costs. Direct costs include workers’ compensation payments, medical expenses, and costs for legal services. Examples of indirect costs include training replacement employees, accident investigation and implementation of corrective measures, lost productivity, repairs of damaged equipment and property, and costs associated with lower employee morale and absenteeism.
While each state has its own workers’ compensation laws, the basic tenet remains: the employer provides compensation and medical care for employees who are injured in the course of employment and the employee, in turn, relinquishes their right to sue.
But that security blanket began to unravel the morning of Nov. 5, 2003, when Kristi Fries, an employee at Mavrick Metal Stamping, a now closed Mancelona, Mich., auto parts supplier, reached to remove a part from a 110-ton stamping press. Her unzipped sweatshirt triggered the machine’s controls, causing the press to slam down and crush her arms, resulting in the amputation of both arms between the wrist and the elbow.