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A common sense approach to workplace safety can save lives

Workplace accidents cost businesses billions of dollars each year, but the success of a campaign to improve construction site safety in Nevada indicates that many of the most common injuries could be prevented by a pragmatic common sense approach. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the 10 leading causes of workplace injuries account for about 85 percent of injury-related costs, and employers in Louisiana and around the country are finding that education and training initiatives can help to reduce injuries associated with falls, overexertion and repetitive motion.

The city of Henderson launched a workplace safety campaign in 2014 to combat an epidemic of construction site accidents and fatalities. Construction site accidents in neighboring Las Vegas had claimed the lives of 12 workers during an 18-month period in 2008 and 2009. The success of the initiative led the National Safety Council to honor Henderson with the Occupational Excellence Achievement Award in 2016, and safety advocates say that adopting this type of approach could help employers across the nation to achieve similar results.

The Henderson initiative encouraged both employers and workers to put safety first. Injuries caused by overexertion were tackled by training workers how to lift heavy objects safely, and instruction was also provided about the dangers of repetitive motion and the importance of maintaining proper form. Triple-digit temperatures are not uncommon in southern Nevada, and workers in Henderson were reminded to consume plenty of fluids and take regular breaks.

While a growing number of employers are starting to view safety training as an investment rather than an expense, this attitude may not always prevent them from contesting workers' compensation claims. Attorneys familiar with the workers' compensation program may argue on behalf of claimants when their employers claim that they were not injured while on the job or are exaggerating the scope of their injuries.

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