Every year, millions of workers suffer non-fatal workplace injuries — 6 million to be exact. This results in an annual cost of $125 billion for U.S. businesses, a good chunk of which goes to employee hospital stays.
To save on costs and improve workplace safety, it’s important to first understand which job hazards are leading to hospitalizations. Here are some common sources.
Job Hazards: The Most Common Culprits
Most jobs include manual handling tasks, whether it’s lifting, pushing or carrying items. In fact, you could even place repetitive tasks like packing and operating machinery under this category.
In some cases, the employee may push themselves beyond their capacity. At other times, they might use improper techniques while handling items. Either of these scenarios can result in job hazards and a potential visit to the hospital.
According to the Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, overexertion involving outside sources is the leading cause of disabling injuries in the U.S., costing businesses more than $15 billion in 2013.
Slips, Trips and Falls
With the hectic nature of work environments, little things can often go unnoticed. From spills to cords running through walkways, these small obstacles pose a serious danger to employees who may not notice them in the day-to-day bustle.
Slippery or cluttered conditions are also a contributor to falls in the workplace. Other causes include uneven flooring or holes in the surface as well as unsafely positioned ladders.
In 2014, slips, trips and falls led to employees missing more than 247,120 days of work.
Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals
Chemical hazards create both health and physical risks to employees. Depending on the type of chemical and the degree of exposure, employees could develop skin infections as well as lung or nervous system disorders. And if the chemicals are flammable, their improper handling could potentially lead to workplace fires.
OSHA notes that about 32 million workers interact with chemical hazards and could potentially be exposed to them.
Creating a Safer Workplace For the New Year
To reduce employee hospitalizations in 2018, there are a few preventive approaches that businesses can take.
Proper housekeeping helps bring to light potential job hazards that would otherwise have been hidden. For instance, clutter may have covered up parts of the flooring that were ripped or damaged. By keeping the workplace clean and organized, businesses can better spot these issues and address them accordingly.
Training is also an important step. Employees should have a clear understanding of safety measures and how to use equipment relevant to their role. For example, when using chemicals, employees should easily be able to access safety data sheets that correlate with their use. These clear and organized instructions help to avoid potential shortcuts and ensure that the same protocol is being followed across the board.
With a safety management system, you can better prevent common job hazards and create a safer environment for your employees. Learn more about its benefits in a free ebook.