It is unfortunate when it takes something bad happening for change to be implemented. We have seen this countless times throughout society. After 9/11, more stringent checkpoints were put in place. After the devastating loss of a child, the Amber Alert System was put in place. The workplace is often no exception. An employee is injured and then the company re-examines their safety plan. But there’s no reason that has to be the case.
More often than not, a workplace injury is the result of poor training, improper, or complete lack of, safety equipment. Injuries can occur from a lack of accountability or proper management. There are some freak accidents that can’t be prevented or foreseen, but the majority of the time, employers scratch their heads and go “Why didn’t we realize the problem before now?”
As an employee, it is important to speak up. One of the great things about a workplace is the combination of different backgrounds, education, experiences, and insight. Something obvious to you may not be so recognizable to the next person beside you. If you almost slip and break your neck on a protruding cord at the office every single day, why wait until you actually trip to do something about it? If your safety helmet is unsecure and doesn’t seem to be protecting you all that well, tell your employer! This may seem like common sense, but yet injuries are occurring all the time after what seems to be preventable accidents.
As an employer, listening to employees can be invaluable, especially if management is not hands-on with the employees. Employers may devise conceivably stringent safety plans, but if they are not in the field executing the safety plan, they may be unable to see its flaws.
Taking a proactive, as opposed to a reactive, approach to the workplace not only might help to reduce the number of workplace injuries, but also may improve employee satisfaction. Going to work every day and feeling safe, secure, and even more importantly, heard can drastically improve workplace attitude.
So, the next time you are at work and notice an electrical outlet extremely close to water, or the ladder you use to get a box of paper off the top shelf is feeling pretty rickety, go ahead and be proactive—do something about it before you, or another employee suffers an injury because of it.
Bernard D. Nomberg has practiced workers’ compensation law in Alabama for more than 20 years. Bernard has earned an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell’s peer-review rating. He has been selected a Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers Magazine as well as a Top Rated Attorney by B-Metro Magazine. Bernard is the incoming President of the Alabama State Bar’s Workers’ Compensation Section.