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Safety Management Insights

Common Workplace Injuries and How to Prevent Them

Posted by Don Brown on Apr 26, 2016 8:30:00 AM

workplace-injury-prevention.jpgInjuries are inevitable. As much as we might strive toward that coveted zero-incident goal, at some point, someone will get hurt on the job. Fortunately, there’s plenty of data available on the most prevalent work-related injuries, as well as plenty of steps you can take to prevent them. To keep your company compliant, review the following sources of injury, and make sure your policies include steps for prevention.

Overexertion

Even the most physically fit workers can push themselves too hard. Overexertion is consistently one of the top 10 most common workplace injuries, and it includes injuries caused by pulling, lifting, pushing, holding, carrying and throwing. To keep workers from overdoing it, implement mandatory break periods, and encourage employees to keep a close on eye on one another. A buddy system can be particularly useful during extreme heat, snow and other inclement conditions that create additional stress on the body.

Falls

Falls from heights and slipping on same-level surfaces are the third- and second-most common work-related injuries, according to the National Safety Council. To avoid falls, workers should use proper personal protection gear, and employers should install guard rails and other preventive devices. To keep slips and trips to a minimum, employees can use non-slip rugs in wet and slippery areas. For both hazards, it helps to clearly label the areas where heights, slippery surfaces and debris are likely to cause trouble.

Striking Objects

Falling objects are a common source of head injuries in warehouses and other facilities with stories-high shelving. Avoiding these hazards begins with secure storage, but employers should also use signage and enforce the use of protective equipment in areas with heavy debris.

Similarly, head, knee, neck and foot injuries are common in jobsites where floors are filled with furniture, cabinetry and closely packed storage items. Again, the best policy for prevention is to securely store items and maintain a neat workplace.

Repetitive Stress

It may come as a surprise, but repetitive motions are the ninth greatest cause of on-the-job injuries—even among office workers! Excessive typing, scanning and other computer-related tasks can lead to muscle strains, vision problems and even arthritis later on in life. Proper ergonomic support can help employees to avoid these issues, but perhaps more important are consistent breaks.

OSHA’s Fatal Four

What does OSHA have to say about common work-related injuries? Each year the organization collects mountains of data on incidents, compliance and violations, and they always publish an annual top 10 list of violated standards. While this list changes slightly from year to year, an even shorter list is consistently responsible for a majority of construction worker deaths. OSHA’s “Fatal Four” are falls, electrocutions, strikes from objects and compression by large, dangerous factory machinery. In most cases, these deaths can be prevented by more thorough precautionary procedures.

Keeping Near Misses in Mind

Even if you haven’t had an incident in a while, your current “perfect” record doesn’t tell the whole story. Near misses are critical to keep in mind, as each one represents a severe or even fatal injury that was barely prevented. In fact, the National Safety Council recommends the establishment of a Near Miss Reporting System. Just as you track accidents and illnesses, it’s important to track near misses and incorporate them into the data you use to update your policies and procedures.

What to Do When Injuries Occur

When the inevitable happens and someone gets hurt, it’s critical that you take the appropriate steps to assist the employee, record the event and prevent it from happening again. Let BasicSafe’s Incident Reporting and Investigation tool walk you through each step, record each incident and track trends to stay organized. By tracking the safety trends on each of your jobsites, you can provide for long-term improvements to your workers’ safety and your company’s bottom line.

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