Work injuries and illnesses can be devastating and difficult for people to overcome.
Workplace safety has long been a priority in Northeastern Pennsylvania. A big reason why stems from the area's history of workplace accidents, especially in the anthracite coal mining industry in the 19th century.
Some of the first workplace safety inspection laws and labor unions were formed in Pennsylvania in response to the Avondale Mine Disaster in Plymouth, PA, in September 1869. A total of 110 miners were killed in a fire in the Avondale Colliery in Luzerne County, the largest mining disaster in history in the United States at the time, according to The Times Leader.
Unfortunately, workplace accidents still occur frequently in Pennsylvania. However, nowadays, work accidents are reported in a wide range of industries. This is why Pennsylvania employers need to make workplace safety a priority. When workplace accidents do happen, injured workers should receive the workers' compensation benefits they rightfully deserve.
Leading causes of workplace accidents in Pennsylvania
Workplace accidents happen for many reasons. Each year, roughly 150 people in Pennsylvania are killed in work-related accidents, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
In general, about one-third of these fatalities occur due to transportation-related accidents.
Other common causes of serious or fatal workplace accidents include slips and falls (28 deaths in 2020), coming into contact with objects or mechanical equipment (27 deaths in 2020), and exposure to harmful substances, including hazardous chemicals (25 deaths in 2020).
How employers can make workplaces safer
There are many steps employers can and should take to improve safety in factories, warehouses, construction sites, and other workplaces.
"Workplace safety doesn't happen by chance," says retired workers' compensation judge and O'Malley & Langan attorney Joseph Grady. "Employers must make the safety of their employees a top priority."
Create a culture of workplace safety
One way to make workplaces safer involves creating a workplace culture that consistently makes safety an ongoing priority.
"Instead of offering one-time safety classes or training sessions, companies need to make workplace safety a part of everyone's daily workday," says attorney Mary Anne O. Lucas.
For example, companies can create safety checklists for supervisors and employees to review daily before starting work:
- Has the equipment been inspected recently?
- Are workers provided with appropriate safety equipment for the job?
- When was the last time an employee received safety training for operating a particular piece of equipment?
Make workplace safety inspections a priority
Employers shouldn't wait for state or federal officials to conduct workplace safety inspections. Instead, companies need to be proactive and conduct regular inspections on their own. This way, potentially dangerous or hazardous conditions can be identified and addressed before a workplace accident occurs.
Follow OSHA guidelines
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has strict guidelines when it comes to workplace safety. Employers should be well-versed in the most up-to-date OSHA regulations created and enforced by this federal agency.
Offer workplace safety training
Another way employers can create a safer work environment is by regularly offering safety training to workers. This involves going above and beyond the minimum required by state or federal laws. This training can cover a wide range of topics, including:
- Proper use of safety equipment
- How to safely operate machinery
- Ergonomic training to prevent repetitive stress injuries
- What to do in the event of a workplace accident or injury
Provide workers' compensation to injured workers
When workplace injuries occur, companies need to make sure sick or injured workers receive their workers' compensation benefits. By law, employers in Pennsylvania with at least one employee must provide workers' compensation benefits for their team members. These benefits can pay for a wide range of work-related injury costs, including medical care, partial replacement wages, and other expenses.
How a workers' compensation attorney can help
In a perfect world, injured workers in Pennsylvania would automatically receive the workers' compensation benefits they deserve. Unfortunately, that doesn't always happen.
In many cases, workers don't get the benefits or the support they need after a serious workplace injury or illness. The hard truth is that injured workers need an experienced workers' compensation lawyer on their side, fighting for their rights.
"The stakes are high when it comes to workplace injuries and accidents," says O'Malley & Langan Founder and Senior Partner Todd J. O'Malley. "It's critical that injured workers talk to us immediately. Our legal team has more than 30 years of experience handling complicated workers' comp claims, and we're ready to get right to work on your case."
Act fast. Contact us now for a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation.