In the 19th century through the early 1900’s, workers seriously injured on the job were left to cover their own medical bills and figure out a way to cover lost wages until they were able to return to their jobs. With the passage of state workers’ compensation laws starting in 1911 through 1948 when the last state came onboard, organizations were, and still are required to purchase insurance so that workers can receive medical care and some compensation during their recovery. About the same time, businesses on the hook for premiums started pushing to eliminate and reduce injuries, resulting in safer workplaces. In 1970, the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) was passed to develop safety standards across the board.
Although worker injuries and fatalities decreased with the passage of workers’ compensation laws and again with OSHA, even now there are still many occupational injuries reported every year leading many to ask “why are so many workers injured on the job?” Taking a closer look reveals that although OSHA’s passage has indeed resulted in improvements to the physical environment of the workplace – adding many safeguards while removing a number of hazards – it turns out that many workplace accidents result from worker behaviors that are harder to control. It cannot be overstated…training employees is key to reduce injuries and fatalities on the job.
Take for example, lock out tag out practices and procedures used to safeguard workers from hazardous energy releases. Certainly, most businesses make employees aware of OSHA rules and regulations, but the fewest workplace injuries are associated with employers who train and retrain employees to maintain proficiency, who limit the employees authorized to lockout machines or equipment or perform service and maintenance, and who prohibit non designated employees working in the area from restarting or reenergizing machines – an emphasis on employee behaviors that translates into safety. In a safe working environment, workers are not only aware of the rules and regulations put forth by OSHA, but understand the role they play in the process to keep all workers safe.
Looking back through history, there have been many gains in preventing workplace injuries and fatalities, but there is still more work to be done especially when it comes to the failure properly training employees to safely perform their jobs. Regular training can save lives and is perhaps the most important responsibility an employer owes his or her employees. If you or a family member is seriously injured at work, it is important to seek the help of an experienced Iowa workers’ compensation personal injury lawyer to maximize the compensation you receive. Contact the workers’ compensation law offices of Stoltze & Stoltze PLC for immediate assistance today at 515-244-1473.