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Shift in workplace safety emphasizes prevention

A growing number of safety professionals are urging a shift in how potential hazards are treated in the workplace. The traditional approach is to wait until an accident happens and then investigate the incident. However, serious injury and fatality prevention programs, also known as SIF, aim to anticipate and limit those accidents. Some safety professionals believe this will make New Jersey employees safer.

For these programs to be effective, a company's safety professionals must talk to workers in the field about the hazards they observe. This means that workers must be in an environment in which they feel safe reporting hazards. Safety professionals must also be prepared to bring leadership on board.

Empowering employees to make safety decisions when necessary can also do a lot to improve safety in the workplace. In one incident in Canada, a new employee was the one who identified a safety issue and signaled to stop work when a load of pipe that was being lifted from a flatbed trailer began to slip. The employee's actions happened in an environment in which exercising this authority was encouraged. The next step in a SIF program would be to investigate what conditions led to the incident.

Most employees who do suffer injuries in the workplace are protected by workers' compensation. This helps workers and their families cover medical expenses as well as other costs while recovering from a work-related injury or illness. For some workers, proving the link between the injury and the work situation that caused it can be challenging. This may be the case with injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome or various muscle strains. An attorney could be of assistance if such a claim is disputed or denied.

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