Whether you're standing on your feet for hours in a retail or restaurant job or you're regularly lifting heavy objects in a warehouse or construction job, there are a number of ways that the average employee can face serious injury at work. And although the United States has a number of labor laws that are supposed to resolve workplace safety issues, not all employers follow these regulations. Minor and major injuries -- and even tragedy -- can result when safety guidelines in the workplace aren't fully enacted.
However, workers themselves can learn how to avoid workplace injuries, and they also have other resources in case they are injured, such as personal injury attorneys. If you're looking for some guidance on how to avoid injuries in the workplace, check out these helpful tips:
1. Make sure you're clear on your job description.
When you are first hired, your human resources department should let you know about your job duties. While these include your day to day tasks, they should also have information about the risks you may face on the job. This includes whether you will have to do any heavy lifting or how many hours per day you may be on your feet. If these guidelines are unclear, ask your boss.
2. Find out about reasonable accommodations you may be entitled to.
If you are unable to meet some or all of the physical requirements of your job due to a health condition or disability, your employer may be able to provide you with reasonable accommodations. For example, this may include giving a cashier who has back problems a chair or stool rather than forcing that worker to stand. If you are pregnant and working in the United States, you are also protected under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which was passed in 1978.
3. Be aware of your working conditions at all times.
Whether or not your employer has given you a safety briefing for your job, you should be able to recognize situations that may be unsafe. If you're ever unsure of something, you can ask your employer. For example, if you work in retail, then your store should have adequate safety procedures in place for events like Black Friday. Each year, Black Friday -- the big shopping day after Thanksgiving -- becomes more and more dangerous as crowds head out to malls and large retail stores. In fact, in 2015, there was one death and fifteen injuries, both of shoppers and workers. Make sure that you know how to avoid injuries in the workplace at all times, and ask your employer if something is unclear or could be dangerous.
4. Know what to do if you are injured.
In the event that you are injured on the job, you may be entitled to compensation. First, however, you would need to file a claim for worker's compensation. Once you file your claim, your employer has 30 days to file a response to your claim; if no answer is filed, then the facts of the claim are deemed admitted. Be sure to speak with a workers' compensation attorney if you have any questions about this process.
Don't gamble on your safety in the workplace. If you see something that looks hazardous, bring it to your employer's attention -- before it's too late for you or someone else.