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Automobile Collisions / Workers' Compensation

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At-work falls cost U.S. workers, employers $36 billion yearly

"Falling down on the job" and "He let that one slip by" are expressions used to fault a worker for less-than-stellar job performance. That business-culture conditioning may be the reason Milwaukee employees often wrongly blame themselves when a real fall or slip happens at work.

Employers bear the responsibility for keeping work environments free from hazards. A healthy, productive staff would seem to be enough incentive for employers to remain vigilant about safety. Some employers worry less about safety than others, which explains why millions of patients suffer neck injuries and herniated discs from work-related accidents each year.

The U.S. Department of Labor Injury Facts says falls force 8.7 million people to visit emergency rooms each year. Not everyone who falls down seeks medical help, nor does every fall happen in a workplace, but slips, trips and falls are the third largest reason employees are injured on the job.

The government estimates that a single instance of at-work injury due to a fall costs about $28,000. Employees recovering from falls miss an average of 104 million workdays. The expense to victims and employers runs about $36 billion each year.

Prevention is the key to curbing injuries. The National Safety Council has released a compilation of practical tips to help avert injuries at work and home.

  • Housekeeping methods can help or hurt the home and workplace. A lackadaisical approach to orderliness increases chances that falls and slips will happen. Frequently-used items require common-sense storage, at waist level. Floors should be free of unused and stray objects.
  • Liquids on floors in kitchen and shower areas and slippery pavements or parking lots account for a high proportion of falls. Anti-skid and non-slip materials like bevel-edged mats, rugs, tapes and paints increase safety.
  • Clear aisles, stairs and walkways -- free of cables, boxes and other obstacles -- provide a safe travel path. Cords and wires should be coiled or taped around desks and off the floor.
  • Workplace lighting must also be adequate, minus broken bulbs and lights switches, to avoid slips, trips and falls. Proper shoe wear is also vital. Safety-conscious employers instruct workers on the compatibility of shoe types with work surfaces.

Source: crbizjournal.com, "5 Tips to Help Prevent Slips, Trips and Falls at Work and at Home," June 19, 2012

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