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Mitigating workplace hazards to prevent fatalities

Louisiana employees face many different kinds of hazards at their jobs, depending on the type of work that they do. According to the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety, the top five causes of serious work-related injuries for all industries in most years are overexertion, falls on the same level, falls to a lower level, struck by an object and other bodily reactions.

While annual workplace illness and injury rates have declined over the last 10 years, work-related fatalities have actually increased. In 2014, the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries counted 4,821 fatal work-related accidents. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that year had the highest number of fatalities since 2008.

To keep workers safe, employers need to use a layered approach to mitigate workplace risks. The first layer is elimination of safety hazards followed by substitution, engineering controls, administrative controls and personal protective equipment. While these safety measures are organized in a hierarchy, they should not be thought of as a list of options. Instead, employers should remove and replace workplace hazards wherever possible. Then, employers should help to prevent injuries by training workers, putting up warning signs and using personal protective equipment.

A person who was injured at work may be able to apply for workers' compensation benefits. Injured workers may be entitled to receive medical treatment and a portion of the income that they lost while they were recovering from their injuries. An attorney may help an injured worker to pursue the maximum amount of compensation by ensuring that the claim contains all required information and is filed on a timely basis.

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