The Occupational Safety and Health Administration mandates that all employers, including those in Iowa, must establish safety plans to protect employees from work-related injuries and illnesses. Do you know your rights? Does your employer have your best interest at heart?
Your employer must perform frequent hazard assessments to identify dangers and then take steps to mitigate them. Other essential requirements include safety training and employee education. If these crucial elements are in place, you can be sure that your employer prioritizes employee safety over profits.
Are the following safety protocols part of the plan?
If you are unsure about your employer’s commitment to keeping you and your co-workers safe, look for the following:
- Housekeeping: Spill control and keeping walkways and work areas free of debris and randomly placed objects are necessary parts of the safety plan to prevent slip, trip and fall accidents.
- Noise control: Conducting noise analysis by using a decibel meter is crucial. Exposure to sounds that measure 82 decibels or more requires the use of earplugs, but when the noise level reached 132 decibels, additional protection is necessary.
- LOTO protocols: All the machinery with moving parts must have lockout/tagout devices to prevent injuries during cleaning, servicing and repair operations. Training in the proper use of LOTO systems is essential.
- Safety signage: Graphic iconery throughout the plant to indicate locations such as the eyewash stations, fire extinguishers, restricted areas and danger zones can put all workers on a safety alert, regardless of their ability to understand English.
- Respiratory protection: Air sampling can measure exposure to hazardous air and determine the need for respiratory protection. The level of the exposure will determine the type of respirator you need, such as a half or full-face respirator, dust mask or air-purifying respirator.
- Confined spaces: Are confined spaces identified and marked as access-controlled zones? It is not only the size of the space that matters but also the air quality and the means of escape in emergencies. You must also have a harness by which rescuers can pull you out if necessary.
- Fall arrest and dropped tool protection: OSHA requires anyone working at heights of four feet or more to have fall protection, tied off to an anchor that can support weights of up to 5,000 pounds. Systems must be in place to prevent tools from dropping onto workers at lower levels.
- Hazardous chemical handling: Is there a plan in place to manage the storage and handling of hazardous materials? This plan must include related products like coveralls, safety goggles, gloves and other protection.
None of these precautions can be effective without proper training in the use of safety equipment. Training can also help to keep you alert and prevent complacency.
If your employer has all these hazards covered in a safety plan, you are one of the more fortunate workers in Iowa. However, despite all the precautions, accidents can happen. Will you know what to do if you are a victim of a workplace accident? Your employer must also explain your rights to workers’ compensation benefits, and the steps to take in the event of an injury.
To help you focus on recovering and returning to work, you can utilize the skills of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. Legal counsel can navigate the workers’ compensation benefits claim on your behalf. Typical benefits include compensation for medical expenses and lost wages, but additional benefits may apply if your injuries caused a permanent disability.