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Reducing workplace safety hazards

While workplace illnesses and injuries have declined over the last 10 years, fatalities have gone up, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In fact, 2014 had the highest number of worker fatalities since 2008, with 4,821 deaths. There are a few things that Kentucky employers can do to reduce the risk of accidents in the workplace.

According to experts in the insurance industry, the first step is to identify the risks. Statistics show most workplace accidents happen due to overexertion, falls on the same level, falls to a lower level, being struck by an object or exertion mishaps, such as slipping without falling.

After potential risks are identified, businesses should take a layered approach to mitigating them. Whenever possible, safety hazards should be eliminated from the workplace. Likewise, hazardous equipment should be replaced with something less dangerous. Employers should also use engineering controls, such as guardrails or elevated platforms, to isolate workers from risks that can't be eliminated. Administrative controls, such as employee training and warning signs, should also be used. At-risk workers should always use personal protective equipment, such as hard hats, respirators and safety glasses. Experts say using a multi-faceted approach to safety will reduce injuries and deaths and lower costs.

People who slip or fall while on the job can be seriously injured and forced to take significant time off work. In order to help with financial burdens, most injured workers are eligible to file for workers' compensation benefits. These benefits can include payment for medical treatment as well as in some cases partial wage replacement. Some people find it helpful to consult with an attorney before they file their claim.

Source: SHRM, "A Layered Approach to Mitigating Workplace Safety Risks", Lisa Nagele-Piazza, Dec. 13, 2016

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