Injuries are an all-too-common reality in the workplace. These chronic or acute events can create a prolonged absence from the workforce, which hurts employees and employers. Injuries can lead to missed work, expensive medical bills, workers' compensation costs and, most importantly, serious pain.
Although employees need to do their part to avoid injuries, employers should set up programs and lead the way to prevent these injuries through extensive training, work environment changes and the implementation of safety tools such as nonslip work shoes. Here are some of the most common workplace injuries and what employers can do to reduce risk.
Overexertion injuries have long been some of the most common injuries throughout different sectors of the workforce. Overexertion is a broad term that includes injuries that can come from lifting something incorrectly, pushing something too large or carrying something too heavy. By trying to lift, move or carry these items, employees can develop chronic or acute musculoskeletal injuries ranging from mild sprains to slipped disks and broken bones.
The 2013 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, which examined data from 2011, ranked overexertion as the No. 1 cause of workplace injuries. It accounted for nearly 26 percent of all injuries, costing a total of $14.2 billion.
The best ways that employers can help prevent overexertion injuries are through comprehensive reform and education. Employers should work with employees to teach proper lifting techniques and provide the right carrying devices and any ergonomic support necessary. Furthermore, employers should make sure that these new policies are followed strictly.
2. Slips and trips
Second on Liberty Mutual's list were falls on the same level of a structure. Costing the workforce $8.6 billion, this is quite a serious issue that needs to be addressed. Same-level falls make up a category of injury that includes slips and trips, differentiating it from injuries where people fall to a lower level. These are common in restaurant kitchens where the floors are slippery, warehouses where materials may impede safe travel and many other service and manufacturing workplaces.
Nonslip shoes are often the best defense against slips and trips, which accounted for more than 15 percent of all workplace injuries in 2011. Slip-resistant shoes and work boots can help improve employees' grip with the floor, so that even when there are additional factors, such as grease, they'll still have a good chance of keeping their footing.
Falls to a lower level are another big culprit behind injuries at work. Construction sites account for a large number of these falling injuries. EHS Today magazine recommended that employers check ladders, scaffolding and other support systems regularly to ensure their sturdiness. Safety precautions such as harnesses or railings can be critical in preventing these painful injuries. Make sure employees know what safety precautions are available and when to employ them.
4. Disregarding safety
Unsafe acts can be a major reason for injury, according to safety education company Aurora Pictures. Although not always counted among other injury categories, many times injuries are caused by employee negligence or disregard. Whether people aren't wearing the proper gear, following the guidelines or using the right machinery, these actions can result in costly injuries. Employers should stress the importance of safety protocols – they're not just legal requirements, they're there to avoid danger.
5. Business-specific injury
There are a variety of less common injuries that are also hazardous to employees depending on their profession. Automobile crashes and electrical injuries rank high in fields where driving or electrical work are used. Being struck or compressed by an item are also serious dangers. Employers should look into business-specific injuries to see what else they can do to keep their employees safe, uninjured and happy.
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