Work related injuries can happen, no matter what kind of business you own or manage. If you own a business, you might have a fear of employees getting hurt while on the job.
In 2018, there were 2.8 million reported nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses. In a high-risk environment, workplace injuries can be more frequent or severe compared to other working environments. However, many of these injuries happen in offices and low-risk environments.
Knowing the risks of your work environment can help reduce the potential for workplace injuries. Proper training and safety precautions can also help ease your fears of employees getting hurt at work. Keep reading to learn about some of the most common work related injuries and how to help keep employees safe on the job.
Slip or Trip and Fall
The slip and fall (or trip and fall) injury is one of the most common on the job injuries. It can happen in any workplace environment, from offices to restaurants and warehouse environments.
Tripping over an object in a pathway or slipping on a wet floor doesn’t always cause an injury. However, when it does, an employee can request workers’ compensation to cover medical expenses and time off for recovery. This can get expensive for employers.
To help reduce the potential for a slip or trip and fall accidents and injuries, be sure to train employees about keeping the workspace clear of objects and debris. Make sure everything has a proper storage place on shelves and off of the floor. Clean spills right away and alert employees to a spill until it’s safely cleaned.
If an employee reports an injury due to a trip and fall on your business property, consult a workers compensation doctor. This kind of doctor has expertise in recognizing and treating work-related injuries.
Injury From Falling Objects
Any time an employee walks by a row of shelving, they are at risk of falling objects. This is a common risk when working in warehouses, retail stores, or storage facilities with high shelves storing multiple objects.
Falling objects can cause head and neck injuries. Employees can also suffer from falls when trying to avoid falling objects. To keep employees safe, make sure all employees receive training before walking through warehouse spaces and placing or retrieving items on shelves.
In an office environment, make sure employees get help using high shelves or tall filing cabinets. Never place unsecured items on unsteady shelves.
Muscle Strains From Lifting
Muscle strains can happen in any workplace. From lifting a box of printer paper for the office copy machine to carrying heavy bags of mulch for your landscaping service, muscle strains are one of the most common workplace injuries.
When hiring employees, make sure they can handle the physical aspects of the job. Provide training for any lifting or bending required for employees to successfully manage their daily job tasks. If an employee cannot lift an object, make sure they understand how to ask for help.
Lifting by using the knees from a squat position can help reduce low back strains and keep people safe on the job.
Equipment injuries can be common when working with heavy machinery or driving trucks or construction equipment. Office workers can also suffer an injury from improper or unsafe use of equipment in the workplace.
If your business uses heavy machinery, make sure workers have the training and required certifications to operate the equipment. Keep the workspace safe according to requirements for operating heavy or dangerous equipment.
In an office environment, make sure employees understand how to use and store smaller equipment. Office machines and equipment like paper cutters and fax machines can seem simple to use. However, with careless or improper use, an employee can suffer from a cut when operating the paper cutter.
Make sure all equipment stays in good working order. Frayed electrical cords can result in a shock. Poorly-maintained heavy equipment can cause employee injury.
If you employ drivers, your employees can face the risk of collision injuries. Whether it’s a fender bender while making deliveries or a severe accident while running an office errand, automotive accidents can cause a wide range of injuries for employees.
Train employees on the proper use of company vehicles. Hire employees with good driving records who understand automotive safety. When using a personal vehicle for company errands, your business can be liable for an employee’s automotive accident and injury.
Repetitive Motion Injuries
If a job requires the same physical motion day in and day out, your employees could suffer from a repetitive muscle injury. Tasks like scrubbing the floor, working the same task on an assembly line, or hammering nails into a roof, can lead to repetitive muscle injuries. Sitting at a desk, typing, or using the phone or computer for extended amounts of time can lead to wrist strains, neck injuries, and eye strains.
Employees who deal with repetitive movements can suffer from tendinitis, bursitis, and other types of joint and muscle inflammation. Train employees to take breaks, stretch, and perform repetitive physical tasks properly to stay safe on the job.
For desk employees, make sure to set up the computer, chair, and desk ergonomically. Help employees understand the importance of sitting up straight and standing up to stretch their legs throughout the day.
Today’s employers face the reality of workplace violence. No matter how well you train employees and how well you maintain workplace equipment, workplace violence can happen.
When an employee receives an injury due to a fight or attack from someone on your business property while on the job, it can be a workplace injury. As the employer, you can be liable for an injury resulting from violence instigated by another employee or a person who gains access to your business property.
Learn to notice the signs of an unhappy or potentially violent employee. Make sure employees know what to do when facing a perceived threat from a coworker. Avoid an attack from non-personnel on company property. Provide a safe working environment with security and controlled access to employee locations.
Walking Into Injuries
Distractions can cause workplace injuries. When an employee walks into a glass door, cabinet, desk, or another employee, the collision can result in an injury.
Mark glass doors to help employees see the door before walking into it. Encourage employees to stay alert with walking around the office, especially when coming around corners or when near furniture or other objects. Keep office equipment and furniture in safe locations with a clear walk space around these objects.
Falling From Heights
A “height” can be as low as a step or as high as an upper floor or the top of a flight of stairs. Employees can make a misstep and fall off of a curb or fall over off of a ladder or over the railing from one floor to another.
Fall from height injuries can be as simple as a twisted ankle or stubbed toe. More serious fall injuries include broken bones or head injuries. Some of these injuries can result in death.
Protect your employees by marking steps or curbs with bright paint to warn of an upcoming step. Teach ladder safety for employees who use step ladders or tall ladders to perform job duties. Encourage employees never to lean on or over railings. Provide safety harnesses and equipment for jobs that require work from heights or dangerous locations.
Inhaling Toxic Fumes
If your business handles chemicals or substances that emit fumes or vapors, be sure you provide plenty of protection for your employees. Toxic fumes can cause damage to the lungs, eyes, and skin. Employees can suffer longterm damage and health issues when inhaling toxic vapors, gases, and fumes.
Be you provide adequate ventilation for any work areas where employees handle chemicals, liquids, or gases. Make sure all employees wear protective gear, including masks or respirators, when on the job.
Working around heavy machinery, loud music, or other constant noise can cause hearing damage for employees. Even office workers can experience the effects of noise-related hearing loss if they work near noise daily.
Provide hearing protection for employees who work with noisy equipment or sound equipment. Make sure your office has proper sound insulation to protect office employees or other staff from the noise coming from loud working areas.
Help Employees Prevent Work Related Injuries
Protect your employees from work related injuries by keeping them informed and adequately trained. When employees stay safe, you also protect your business from expensive worker’s compensation claims and potential lawsuits. Caring for your employees helps keep them safe. Happy, healthy employees do better work and help your business become a success!
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