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Manufacturing and workplace safety

Many Louisiana workers are employed by manufacturing companies, and most of them are likely aware how hazardous their jobs can be. According to statistics compiled by the U.S. Department of Labor, roughly four out of every 100 manufacturing workers around the country are injured or contract an occupational disease each year. The DOL further notes that manufacturing accounts for the highest proportion of severe injuries than any other industry.

Although automation has had the effect of improving safety at these workplaces, humans are still required to operate the equipment and handle materials, each of which exposes them to risk. Compounding the problem is the unfortunate fact that many companies still place productivity ahead of safety, putting their workers in danger of serious injuries. This also hurts the companies financially. According to an annual safety index put out by a leading workers' compensation insurance company, severe non-fatal injuries across all industries cost companies about $62 billion in 2016.

There are, however, some ways in which manufacturers can help their workers in this regard. At the outset, management must make it clear that its first priority is workplace safety. In this regard, companies should establish best practices. These include, for example, providing fall protection measures like guardrails. They should also construct barriers in front of equipment so that workers do not come into contact with dangerous parts.

Unfortunately, despite all best efforts, some on-the-job injuries are unavoidable. Most employers are required to have workers' compensation insurance coverage, and the benefits could include the payment or reimbursement of medical expenses and, in some cases, the replacement of a percentage of lost wages. Injured workers might find it advisable to have the assistance of an attorney when preparing and submitting the required claim documentation.

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