Understand and Avoid Workplace Injuries
Although workplace injuries may seem infrequent, they are actually incredibly common. In a recent year, over 600,000 workers were injured on the job in the United States and reported their injuries. These injuries can equal a huge loss of job hours and countless dollars spent on insurance payments by companies. More importantly, they can significantly change the lives of those who are injured.
What Are the Most Common Workplace Injuries?
The most common type of injury in the workplace can generally be categorized as accidents. Slips, trips, and falls happen quite often due to new items in an area, cords placed across walking paths and spills. Muscles strains and sprains are also quite high especially in workers who frequently lift, push or pull something. Repetitive stress injuries may creep up slowly but are no less concerning as they can lead to great discomfort, especially in the joints. Back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and elbow, knee and shoulder complaints are high in certain professions.
Other common workplace injuries include the following:
- Injuries from heavy lifting or moving machinery
- Vehicle-related accidents
- Cuts and scrapes
- Injuries from noxious fumes
- Auditory injuries from loud noises
- Workplace fights
How Can Workers Prevent Injuries from Poor Posture?
Those who work at a desk for most of the time may believe that they are nearly immune to injuring themselves at work. However, the simple inactivity of a desk job can lead to huge problems in the neck and back, which are supported by the spinal column and the surrounding muscles. Poor posture while sitting can lead to a great deal of pain and even chronic problems.
When sitting at a desk, individuals should sit up straight with their backs against the back of the chair. The feet should be firmly planted on the floor with the knees level or slightly higher than the hips. When typing at a computer, the arms should be at 90-degree angles at the elbows, and the computer should be directly at eye level.
How Can Workers Prevent Injuries from Lifting and Moving Items?
Upper and lower back pain, muscle strains and sprains can all result from improper body mechanics when lifting or moving heavy items. Very heavy items should be lifted with a team approach. However, when lifting something oneself, the chest should always be forward, and the individual should crouch at the hips rather than bending down with the lower back. This will keep the weight close to the body.
How Can Workers Prevent a Variety of Accidental Injuries?
While poor body mechanics are often a huge cause of injuries, some simply occur due to problems with equipment, accidents or confusing instructions. Managers have a clear role to play in preventing injuries by educating employees. However, all employees must also take the time to put items back where they belong, clean up after themselves and always keep their minds on the job.
Consider these tips for preventing all sorts of workplace accidents.
- Wear protective equipment, including earplugs in certain environments
- Use appropriate staffing measures to ensure that no one is overworked
- Inspect company vehicles and machinery regularly
- Keep the workplace clean and tidy with clear walkways
It is the job of everyone in the workplace to stay aware of the environment and to work wisely and safely to avoid injuries. Because many injuries are due to accidents, staying awake and alert on the job can help individuals avoid all sorts of injuries. Plus, good posture, smart body mechanics and frequent breaks for those doing repetitive tasks can be incredibly helpful.