Many of us get up each day, head off to work, come home in the evening, and repeat five days a week. The routine can get a little monotonous day after day, but we rarely consider that on average in this country, 13 people a day never return home from work. More than 4,600 workers died on the job in 2014, and more than three million others suffered serious, non-fatal injuries at work. Everyone deserves to come home at the end of their shift, alive and uninjured. Employees can join with employers to identify potential safety risks and develop a plan of action to prevent some of the most common injuries.
- Bodily Reaction – No-contact injuries, such as bending, reaching, climbing, or standing or sitting for prolonged periods as well as trauma without impact (slipping or tripping without falling). These incidents can cause a variety of medical issues. The best prevention is eliminating environmental factors and hazards.
- Caught In/Between – Result from a person’s being squeezed, caught, crushed, pinched or compressed between parts of an object. This type of injury is common in factories where people work with dangerous machinery and in construction where people work in trenches. Safe machinery use requires proper lock-out/tag-out procedures, maintenance, and training, while safe excavations need to have an adequate protective system in place to prevent collapse.
- Falling Objects– Items dropped by another person or that fall from shelves can result in serious injuries, particularly to the head. Employers should be diligent in keeping the workplace free from such hazards, and employees should wear personal protection equipment appropriate for their industry (hard hats, safety goggles, etc.).
- Falls from Heights – One of the top four hazards in the construction industry, falls are often fatal. Among other safety measures, personal fall arrest equipment should always be worn and used, the cross-braces of scaffolds should not be climbed, and ladders should not be placed on uneven ground.
- Overexertion– Caused by activities such as pulling, lifting, pushing, holding, carrying, and throwing. Back injuries are the most common form of overexertion in the workplace. Employees should be trained in proper techniques for handling objects, including stretching beforehand, lifting with the legs, asking for help, and using assistive devices.
- Repetitive Motion– Less obvious than some of the others, repetitive motion injuries encompass a range of painful or uncomfortable conditions of the muscles, tendons, nerves, and other soft tissues. Training and workstation ergonomic design can help keep these incidents low
- Slips and Falls– Be careful on wet and slick office floors, icy pathways in the winter, and objects lying on the ground. Anti-slip footwear, anti-slip floor coatings, and decluttering of work areas can help.
- Vehicles– Transportation used for business purposes can be involved in traffic crashes. Training and safe driving policies can reduce accidents. Vehicles are also common in place like warehouses and construction jobsites, so workers need to pay attention to their surroundings.
- Violent Acts– When tempers flare over office politics, governmental politics, religion, relationships, and other hot-button issues, attacks can result. Whether a shove or a shooting, workplace violence happens far too frequently. Employee training and diligence in reporting suspicious activity can help reduce such incidents.