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Focusing on hazard reduction in the workplace


Focusing on hazard reduction in the workplace

Some workplaces in South Carolina and throughout the country may shift to a greater focus on preventing serious injuries and fatalities, also known as SIF programs. These programs move the focus away from the traditional approach of waiting for an accident to occur and then addressing the problem. They recognize that near-miss accidents can be warnings of more serious injuries or fatalities to come, and addressing the conditions that led to those near-misses can help prevent the accidents. A near-miss incident such as a worker nearly falling from heights might not be the type of event that must be reported to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, but it can provide critical information about workplace safety.

One key in identifying potential hazards is to get workers involved. Trust is critical because workers need to be able to talk about what kind of protection and support they need and know that they will not be penalized for pointing out problems.

Face-to-face contact is important in encouraging workers to identify these types of hazards, and safety professionals need to be able to work with people throughout the organizational ladder from workers to executives. However, this feedback cannot be static. There need to be regular opportunities for worker feedback and updates in the safety program because new hazards will emerge.

Even when employers and employees are proactive, workplace injuries will continue to happen. Most employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage, and eligible employees who are injured on the job might want to meet with an attorney to see what benefits might be available and learn about the filing process.