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Workplace Injuries Happen - A Plan of Action Can Help (and Save You $$)

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Workplace Injuries Happen - A Plan of Action Can Help (and Save You $$)

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: August 8, 2012 Updated: August 8, 2012

Do you have a plan for an accident or injury that occurs in your workplace?

While the U.S. workplace has become a much safer place over the past century, accidents do happen. The latest data from the Department of Labor shows that nearly 3.1 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported in the private sector in 2010. This is the equivalent of 3.5 cases per 100 workers. Even more disturbing, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that 4,690 workers were killed on the job in 2010.

"Every day in America, 13 people go to work and never come home. Every year in America, nearly 4 million people suffer a workplace injury from which some may never recover…”– Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, Workers Memorial Day speech April 26, 2012.

The Case for a Safe Workplace

Thanks to the Occupational Safety and Health Act, all workers have a legal right to a safe workplace. As an employer, it is your responsibility to maintain a safe work environment in accordance with the requirements of this Act.

Aside from regulations, though, there’s a strong case for small business owners to invest in injury prevention. According to the OSHA, for each dollar invested in injury prevention, employers can expect a return of $4 to $6. An injury claim against a business can have devastating impact on a company’s bottom line – especially if the injury was due to poor or unsafe working conditions. In fact, OSHA states that companies that didn’t adequately manage workplace safety and health programs performed worse financially than those who did between 2004 and 2007.

 Employer Responsibilities

The following workplace safety and health resources from OSHA will help you understand what the law requires (summarized here) and how you can comply.

You can also refer to this Small Business Guide from OSHA, which explains more about specific benefits and programs the agency offers to help you develop a safe workplace.

OSHA is a valuable resource that shouldn’t be overlooked. In 2010, OSHA provided free assistance to over 30,000 small businesses covering 1.5 million workers by helping them create safe and healthy work environments.

What to Do if an Employee Is Injured on the Job

Here’s what you should do if an employee is injured at your business.

  1. Seek medical attention – Get the appropriate medical care.
  2. Write up an accident report It’s important that you take care of this important step as soon as possible. Talk with employees who witnessed the injury and take photos of the accident scene. You'll want this information for your own records, but also to help you comply with OSHA reporting and recordkeeping polices. OSHA has limited requirements for low-hazard industries and very small businesses with 10 or fewer employees.
  3. Provide workers' compensation reports, if applicable – Workers' compensation systems are managed differently by different states. For state-by-state details, see the Department of Labor's Office of Worker Compensation Programs.
  4. Assess liability – Depending on the situation and the severity of injuries, you may need to offset medical expenses and provide short- or long-term disability leave for an injured employee. If an injury occurs as a result of an OSHA violation, you may be required to provide additional benefits and compensation. OSHA takes employer size and other factors into consideration when assessing violations and penalties. Contact an attorney if you’re concerned about liability.

For more information about workplace injury laws or programs and training resources that can help your business comply visit www.osha.gov or contact your nearest OSHA office.

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About the Author:

Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

Comments:

I really don't think OSHA gets enough credit. All you have to do is compare the safety record of the word to the USA and people will be shocked.
OSHA is a valuable resource that shouldn’t be overlooked. In 2010, OSHA provided free assistance to over 30,000 small businesses covering 1.5 million workers by helping them create safe and healthy work environments.
Being provided so many rights, it is said to say that many of the employees don't even know about these rights. So the first and foremost responsibility of an employer is to make his/her staff aware about their rights.
Thanks a lot for the post! Workplace should always be safe, so that workers don’t become a victim of any kind of accidents. Accidents are very common in a workplace. Thus, every company should give proper attention in this area. Companies should also give proper compensation if any kind of mishap occurs.
A safe workplace is very important according to my attorney.
It is so sad that over 4,000 people died on the job in 2010. According to http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/worker_memorial.htm the majority were construction workers. I believe they must have put safety measures in place because the stats went down from over 6,000 back in 93 and has been around 5,000 since. Not great, but better.

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