Prevention is the key component of preventing many of the most common accidents that can occur in the workplace, and ultimately lead to fewer injuries of employees. In 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics(BLS) did a study for the US Department of Labor that resulted in finding 3.1 million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported that year; this comes to 3.5 cases for 100 full-time employees. With a statistic as startling as this one, preventing workplace accidents becomes that much more important.
The following lists the most common causes of workplace accidents and how to protect your employees:
Defective Equipment – One of the more common causes of accidents in the workplace is defective equipment. All equipment and machinery used on the job should be inspected on a routine basis to be sure everything is working correctly. If something is found to be wrong with the machine, stop using it until it’s repaired. Repairing defective equipment can be what stops a potentially dangerous accident from occurring. Set a schedule for routine maintenance on your equipment and machinery.
Repetitive Motion – Repetitive motion injury is a very common complaint of employees that repeat the same task over and over again, such as office workers that spend the majority of their day typing, or warehouse workers that are using the same motions for loading and unloading crates or boxes. Injuries occur with repetitive motions when breaks and stretches are not done to prevent them, and can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome as well as other injuries from strain. Employees should give themselves a rest every hour, have adequate equipment, and stretch their neck, back, arms, and wrists on a regular basis throughout the day.
Hazardous Chemicals – If your company has a safety policy manual, it should go over the potentially hazardous chemicals that can be found in the workplace and how to handle them. If not, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) should be able to provide you with a chemical safety program that educated your employees on the proper safety precautions when working with chemicals. This important education and training can prevent many of the accidents that occur as a result of hazardous chemicals.
Extreme Weather – For employees that work outdoors, such as construction workers, landscapers, or handymen, proper precautions will need to be made for protection against potential accidents, injuries and illness that can occur with extreme weather conditions. If your employees work in an area that gets harsh cold or hot weather, they may be at risk of a host of medical issues without protection. If they work outdoors during the bitter cold season, ensure they dress in several layers to keep their body temperature up, and be sure they protect their hands, feet, face and head from frostbite by covering them. For severely hot weather, such as desert areas, its important to wear clothing that keeps the body cool, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, and take frequent breaks.
Lack of Protection – An easy way for employees to prevent injuries in the workplace is by wearing proper protective gear such as goggles, hard hats, safety shoes, ear muffs or ear plugs, and gloves.
Insufficient Supervision – Many times, workplace accidents occur because the employee did not have proper supervision. If workers have supervision by qualified and experienced personnel, many accidents, such as from faulty machinery or equipment, can be identified and stopped before an injury takes place. Supervisors and managers should be keeping watch over their employees to be sure they are taking the proper precautions toward preventing accidents in the workplace.
Insufficient Training – Employees should also get adequate training on various risks and hazards including the proper storage and use of chemicals, identifying potentially dangerous situations, keeping up on maintenance of equipment and machinery, wearing protective gear, and other important details regarding your specific type of work and industry. Supervisors should not only be keeping a close eye on employees, but taking them through routine training for their job duties as well as safety training.
Lack of a Workplace Safety Program – The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has developed a comprehensive safety program intended to prevent many workplace accidents and related injuries or illness. By taking advantage of the safety program, your company can decrease the number of accidents that occur. Employees will be educated and trained on the proper protocols of their job, as well as be informed of possible risks and how to identify them before they lead to injuries on the job.
Prevention is the key component to reducing the number of accidents that occur in the workplace, and by educating your employees and supervisors on the importance of safety, you will be one step closer to eliminating injuries that could have been avoided.