Although there have been fewer illnesses and injuries in workplaces over the past several years, Minnesota workers may be shocked to learn that there have been more fatalities. The Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries shows that 4,821 workers around the country suffered fatal injuries on the job in 2014. The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that this is the highest number of deaths since 2008. However, there are some steps that employers can take to reduce these risks.

The first step is identifying the occupational safety risks of the company. Among the leading causes of disabling injuries are overexertion, falling on the same level, falling to lower levels and getting hit by objects.

Companies should attempt to mitigate these hazards when possible, such as moving business activities to ground level. They should replace dangerous pieces of equipment or substances with those that are less dangerous. Companies should use engineering controls to isolate employees from the risks, such as assessing work platforms and installing guard rails for employees to work behind. They should put administrative controls in place, such as training for workers, warning labels for products and signs to inform workers about potential hazards. It is important for businesses to approach workplace safety in layers to protect employees at every level possible.

Getting injured at work may be devastating for workers and their families. While they could only miss a day or two of work, others might be incapacitated for weeks or months. In some cases, the injuries are permanently disabling. People who are in this situation may want to meet with a workers’ compensation attorney to say what benefits they might be entitled to.