An unsafe work environment is usually a sign of a deeper problem, like poor management or an overworked team.
Working in an unsafe environment is not only a threat to your safety, it can also harm your mental health and diminish productivity. You should never tolerate threats to your safety, so here are a few signs you may be unsafe at work.
- Poor Communication – Communication breakdowns could be a major cause of injury, especially in factories, warehouses, and kitchens. Unclear or strained communication could also discourage employees from reporting mistakes or unsafe practices to upper management.
- Doesn’t Check Your References – If your employer doesn’t bother to check your references, it could indicate that they are not careful to screen employees.
- Allergies – Wheezing, shortness of breath, and other allergy-related symptoms could be a sign that you have asbestos in the workplace. Asbestos is extremely dangerous, often resulting in lung disease or cancer. The Missouri Workers’ Compensation Act was expanded in the past few years to include “occupational disease due to toxic exposure.” This means that your employer may be liable in part or in full for any asbestos-related illness.
- Frequent Illness – Frequent illness could not just be a sign of poor air quality, but also of chronic stress. Chronic stress is one of the worst contributing factors to a weakened immune system and frequent illness. It’s also a sign of a poorly managed workplace, a shortage of workers, or a lack of team unity, all contributing factors to an unsafe work environment. High stress is not only bad for your health, but it can also actually lead to mistakes in the workplace that leave people injured.
- Lack of Rules – Any workplace should have an easily accessible handbook and safety rules prominently displayed. If they do not, it could indicate a lack of regard for safety as well as disorganization and unprofessionalism. Be sure to mention this to your St. Louis workers’ compensation attorney.
How Employers Create a Safe Work Culture
1. Encourage Employees to Report Any Pain or Discomfort They Feel Immediately
Many workers hesitate to report minor aches and pains for fear of being seen as weak or unproductive. This hesitancy can have disastrous consequences if the pain turns out to be a symptom of a more serious injury. Encourage your employees to speak up as soon as they feel discomfort.
2. Make Sure Employees Are Properly Trained on How to Use Equipment
Improper use of equipment is one of the leading causes of workplace injuries. Make sure your employees receive proper training on how to safely use all the tools and machinery they’ll be working with. Review safety procedures regularly to ensure everyone is up to date on the latest best practices.
3. Set the Example – Promote a Culture of Safety
A culture of safety starts with management and trickles down to every employee. Ensure your managers are modeling safe behavior and holding employees accountable for following safety procedures. Encourage employees to speak up if they see something unsafe happening. And reward employees who go above and beyond to promote safety in the workplace.
4. Create an Ergonomically Sound Work Environment
One of the best ways to prevent injuries is to design a work environment that considers ergonomics. For example, ensure employees can access adjustable furniture and equipment to maintain proper posture and alignment while working. And encourage employees to take breaks often to stretch and move around.
5. Provide Employees with the Right Safety Gear
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is essential for workers in many industries. Ensure your employees have the PPE they need to stay safe on the job. Review PPE requirements regularly and update them as needed to ensure your employees are always protected.
6. Monitor Employee Fatigue Levels
When employees are tired, they’re more likely to make mistakes or have accidents. Ensure you’re monitoring employee fatigue levels and taking steps to prevent fatigue-related injuries. For example, encourage employees to take breaks often and offer them flexible work schedules when possible.
7. Invest in Injury Prevention Technologies
There are many new technologies available that can help prevent injuries in the workplace. For example, wearable sensors can alert employees when they’re getting too close to a hazard. And mobile apps can help employees report hazards and track safety incidents. Investing in these technologies can create a safer work environment for your employees.
While these strategies will go a long way in creating a culture of care, it’s important to remember that safety starts with each employee. That said, as an employee, you also have a responsibility to do your part in promoting safety in the workplace. Here are some things you can do:
- Beware of your surroundings.
- Wear the proper PPE for your job.
- Follow all safety procedures and protocols.
- Report any pain or discomfort you feel immediately.
- Speak up if you see something unsafe happening.
And if you’re hurt on the job, report your injury to your employer, seek medical attention immediately, and follow the doctor’s instructions for recovery. Then, speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney about filing a workers’ compensation claim to help cover your medical expenses and lost wages.
Seek Legal Help
An unsafe work environment is usually a sign of a deeper problem, like poor management or an overworked team. If you find yourself in an unsafe work environment, seeking employment elsewhere is a good idea, but if leaving your current employer is not an option for you right now, you should be sure to document all of the unsafe work practices that you witness. This may involve keeping a daily diary in which you indicate witnessing unsafe work practices. In the event of injury, this evidence, combined with a respected St. Louis workers’ compensation lawyer, could help you get the settlement you deserve and the medical care that you need.
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