Going to work isn’t nearly as dangerous today as it was in the days when young boys were forced to climb and clean chimneys, steel workers balanced untethered atop skyscrapers and women risked their limbs working in textile mills. Back then, every workday could be your last.
Today, modern comforts such as air conditioning and ergonomic desk chairs, and sophisticated tools such as bulldozers, cranes, chain saws and computers, along with strict government regulations, ensure that most Americans work in safe environments. But work hazards are still plentiful enough to require most businesses to carry workers’ compensation insurance to protect employees and their families in the event of an on-the-job injury or fatality.
With health care and insurance costs rising, savvy businesses are turning to technology and training to improve worker safety and lower expenses. Beyond the basic ergonomic desk, chair and curved keyboards, companies are adopting reasonably inexpensive solutions—such as using document scanning to reduce manual data input and wireless networks to expand work areas—to lessen the chance of injury and reduce insurance premiums.
“Preventing injury makes good business sense,” says Fred Blosser of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in Washington, D.C. “Aside from reducing human misery, by preventing injury, you—as a business—reduce your operating costs.”