Tampa employers were reminded of the consequences of workplace safety last week after the tragic death of a Lutz construction worker, who was struck and killed by a car while performing maintenance on an Interstate 75 overpass.
The accident is still under investigation as Hillsborough County officials look into whether the driver was distracted in some way, or if highway work zone safety measures were not being adequately enforced, according to a report from The Tampa Bay Times.
Although some workplace accidents are unavoidable, employers have a key responsibility in minimize accidents and ensure their employees are working in the safest conditions possible, according to federal, state, and local requirements, and industry standards.
Here are some of Tampa’s largest industries, the most common workplace injuries that occur within them, and how employers can help employees avoid those injuries.
Overexertion injuries – specifically, those that are caused by patient handling – are higher for healthcare professionals than for professionals in any other U.S. industry, according to the Center for Disease Control.
A great deal of research has gone into reducing risk of injury for healthcare workers who must manually lift and move patients as part of their regular duties. As a result, hospitals are encouraged to invest in safe patient handling measures such as portable lifts and other equipment. Proper training on safe equipment use and maintenance, and the implementation of a minimal lift policy, are other measures encouraged by OSHA to ensure safety of both staff and patients.
For those working in information technology and similar office-based work settings, repetitive stress injuries and chronic back pain are common workplace injury complaints.
The best way to combat these injuries is by promoting ergonomics education in the office, according to the Mayo Clinic. Your office may issue ergonomically sound chairs to employees, but these chairs are simply not effective if workers are not postured correctly while sitting in them. Employees should be shown how to sit at their desk correctly and how best to arrange their desk for comfort.
Employers should also encourage employees to take regular, short breaks from sitting at their computer – a notable method for reducing repetitive stress injuries.
Hospitality/tourism is a major industry in Central Florida, with Tampa Bay in particular boasting record hotel occupancy rates. The hospitality and tourism industry encapsulates a wide range of businesses, from theme parks and hotels to restaurants and bars.
As a result, employers will have to be mindful of a large variety of workplace hazards. Slip-and-fall accidents, particularly in restaurants and hotels, are common injuries that can be reduced by installing non-slip tiling and rubber mats. Investing in slip-resistant ladders and educating employees on safety practices when using a ladder can prevent dangerous falls as well.
Meat slicers, mixers, and other common restaurant equipment can cause severe injuries if not used properly. Employers should properly maintain equipment according to the manufacturer’s instructions and ensure all equipment has safety guards.
Protective equipment is also a must, not only in food preparation settings, but also in hotels where employees may come in contact with bodily fluids when cleaning and doing laundry.
The overwhelming majority of injuries to befall manufacturing employees are so-called contact-with-object injuries. This type of workplace injury encompasses the following: being struck by an object or equipment, being caught in or crushed by equipment, or being struck by or crushed by collapsing structures.
Employers can curtail these severe workplace accidents by ensuring equipment and machinery is in working order, training all personnel on proper equipment use, and enforcing the use of required safety gear. For example, loose clothing getting caught in equipment could lead to a serious injury, which could be easily avoided by ensuring employees wear specific gear before handling any machines.
Factory work is a very physically exerting, and as a result, the second most common type of injury for manufacturers is overexertion. Sprains, strains, tears, back pain, and hernias are often the result of excessive reaching, lifting, and bending on the job. Employers are encouraged to schedule more breaks or reduce shift lengths to prevent these costly workplace injuries. Overexertion injuries cost employers $13.4 billion a year, according to estimates by Liberty Mutual.
Although the costs can be initially daunting, by investing in maintenance, proper equipment, and workplace accident prevention education for employees, employers can both create a work environment where employees feel safe and save greatly in the long-term by reducing accidents and workers compensation suits.
If you are an employee who has been injured at the workplace due to unsafe working conditions that your company has ignored, contact us for a free, no-risk case evaluation today.