In 2016, there were more than a million injuries in American workplaces that resulted in days away from work. Many of these nonfatal occupational injuries cost organizations thousands of dollars when they occur — and they are almost completely avoidable.
You should already have a health and safety policy in place for your staff. To ensure your policy is as strong as can be, review these common workplace injuries and the steps you can take to prevent them:
1. Slips, Trips, and Falls
The most common kind of accident in the workplace is a slip, trip, or fall. Even the most seemingly innocuous of falls can lead to serious injuries, like cuts, broken bones, and pulled muscles. Slips and trips are common causes of workplace compensation claims, so it’s vital your organization takes the necessary steps to prevent them.
Keeping the workplace safe is the job of all employees. Spills, weather hazards, untidy rooms, uncovered cables, and poor lighting can all cause slips, trips, and falls. Train staff to deal with spills and to report unsafe areas immediately so that everyone is informed of the dangers. You should also ensure all walking surfaces are safe and fit for purpose, replacing them when they show signs of wear and tear. If staff members work in areas where spills are more likely, such as a kitchen, then make sure they have the right anti-slip footwear to keep them on their feet.
2. Vehicle-Related Injuries
Organizations that use vehicles on a daily basis need to be aware of the injuries that can take place if proper procedures aren’t followed. Accidents can include being struck by a moving vehicle, falling from one, or being hit by objects that aren’t secured in the vehicle correctly. Industries like agriculture, industrial, and manufacturing are all especially prone to vehicle-related accidents. Workers that operate in the road are at risk of being hit by vehicles as well.
To eliminate vehicle-related injuries, you should assess who on your staff works with vehicles, as well as where and when accidents are most likely to occur. Once you’ve established this, you can take steps to prevent accidents.
Ensure that all staff who work in vehicle areas wear high-visibility jackets so drivers can easily see them. Clearly mark areas that vehicles pass through and implement crossing points so other workers can move around safely.
3. Repetitive Strain Injuries
A repetitive strain issue can be just as costly to your organization as any other type of injury. Repetitive strain injuries are very common and can be a problem for employees in all sectors, not just those in manual labor roles.
Workers with repetitive strain injuries find even the simplest of tasks incredibly painful. They may have to spend weeks away from work because of the crippling pain, while extreme cases can result in retirement.
Train staff about the dangers of repetitive strain injuries and overexertion. Some of the most common causes are lifting items incorrectly, working without breaks, or keeping your body in the same, uncomfortable position for long periods of time.
Encourage staff to take regular breaks, educate them on correct lifting procedures, and invest in ergonomic equipment for workers who might be most at risk. Carry out desk assessments and consider screen glare, desk positioning, and chair placement to determine if any employees are at risk of repetitive strain injury.
4. Machinery Accidents
Machinery and electrical equipment can cause serious injuries in the workplace. It isn’t just large factories that are at risk: Smaller workshops and industrial kitchens must be aware of the danger as well.
A long and gruesome list of machinery-related injuries have resulted in lawsuits, including crushed hands, electrocution, and blindness. Assess the machinery in your organization for possible hazards.
Operating machinery itself can be dangerous, and it’s vital that those using it have the appropriate training beforehand. All machinery needs to be regularly maintained and inspected to ensure that belts, rods, chains, gears, and other apparatuses are safe. Dangerous parts of the machine should be safeguarded, and operators need to wear the right protective equipment, like goggles, gloves, hard hats, and ear plugs.
Employee safety is everyone’s responsibility at work. Hazards like faulty equipment and wet floors should be reported and dealt with immediately. No one should wait for someone else to deal with a problem.
Merrida Coxwell is a managing partner at Coxwell & Associates, PLLC.
This article is for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice.