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How to identify and assess workplace hazards

Thousands of New Jersey workers face significant job-related hazards each day. Many of these hazards occur in traditionally dangerous industries, such as construction and agriculture. However, statistics show that people working in industries that are generally considered safe, such as health care, retail and transportation, also face considerable on-the-job risks.

To help workers stay safe, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration published a workplace safety guidance called "Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs". First released in 1988, it is designed to help employers and employees create a safe and healthy work environment. In 2016, it was updated to reflect modern workplace conditions.

According to the guidance, employers should take proactive steps to prevent workplace injuries and illnesses. These steps include gathering information on known workplace dangers and inspecting worksites for any additional safety or health hazards. The agency also recommends that employers develop a plan for conducting incident investigations and train a team to conduct such investigations. Employers should identify both emergency and nonroutine situations and prioritize hazards to ensure those presenting the most significant risk get addressed first. When necessary, interim control measures should be used until long-term solutions can be enacted.

Employees injured in workplace accidents may benefit from speaking with an attorney about their legal rights. Most injured employees are eligible to receive medical benefits and wage replacement payments through their employer's workers' compensation insurance. However, in some cases, other legal action may be recommended. For example, if an employee is injured due to the negligence of a non-employer third party, a separate lawsuit might be a possibility.

Source: Safety, "OSHA guidance for identifying and assessing workplace hazards", July 26, 2018

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