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Workplace safety: Can zero injury goals be met?

Too many workers nationwide, including in Missouri, suffer the consequences of workplace accidents. How can this be stopped? Many companies include a zero-injury program in their mission statements, but is that goal even obtainable? Sooner or later somebody will suffer an injury, whether through a lack of training, ignorance, complacency or an unsafe work environment. However, while zero injuries may be unachievable, compliance with federal safety regulations will improve workplace safety.

After every work injury, employers must look at the prevailing safety protocols and determine how a lack of safety might have contributed to the incident. Were the victims adequately trained and briefed about the tasks and provided with the appropriate personal protective equipment? It is not uncommon for companies to encourage rather than discourage risk-taking by employees.

A belief among safety professionals is that interception and prevention can lead to zero safety threats rather than focusing on zero injuries. They maintain that observant employees reporting unsafe conditions and actions of co-workers can prevent many work accidents. However, this can only work if employers take the necessary actions when at-risk situations are reported. A zero-injury approach requires participation, feedback and correction, along with the commitment of all.

Reportedly, workers at facilities where millions of injury-free hours have been recorded may even hide injuries in order to maintain the company's zero-injury status. The reality is that injuries will continue to happen -- despite workplace safety programs -- and victims are entitled to pursue financial relief through the Missouri workers' compensation insurance system. Medical expenses and lost wages are compensable to help injured workers to care for themselves and their families during times of convalescence.

Source: bakken.com, ""I Can't Fix Stupid" -- Zero Injury is an Impossible Goal", Dan Hannan, Aug. 10, 2016

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