5 Common Workplace Injuries and How to Prevent Them
Most work related injuries result from random incidents that could happen to anyone. Here are five common workplace injuries and how to prevent them.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an agency of the United States Department of Labor, reports millions of work related injuries every year. Nearly four million workers sustain serious injuries, and more than 4,500 of them result in death.
According to Hilda Solis, the former United States Secretary of Labor, “These are preventable tragedies that disable our workers, devastate our families, and damage our economy.”
Most work related injuries result from random incidents that could happen to anyone. Employers have a responsibility to provide a safe work environment for their employees, and workers have a responsibility to protect themselves by using caution on the job. Here are five common workplace injuries and how to prevent them.
1. Sprains, Strains, and Tears
Sprains, strains, and tears are the most common work related injuries. Most of these injuries are caused by overexertion during lifting, pushing, pulling, throwing, carrying, or holding. Back injury is one example.
According to the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, back injuries account for more missed work days than any other injury or illness. They are responsible for a large portion of doctor's office visits.
Regular stretching and strengthening, as part of an overall exercise program, can reduce overexertion injuries at work. Back braces, supportive footwear, and other protective gear can also help. Employee training and proper safety equipment can further minimize the risk of sprains, strains, tears, and similar injuries.
2. Slips, Trips, and Falls
Slips, trips, and falls are the second most common workplace injuries. These injuries happen when workers fall on wet or slippery floors, or when they trip over an object that is lying on the floor.
Employees can prevent most falling injuries by paying close attention to their workplace environment. Falls are less likely to occur when workers clean spills and clear debris from the work areas.
3. Falls from a Height
Falls from a height happen often on the job. Most falls occur from ladders, stairways, and roofs. Some are slip-and-fall accidents, while others are due to faulty equipment.
Workers can reduce the risk of falling from a height by using the proper gear and equipment for the job. Employee training and personal diligence are important for preventing this type of injury.
4. Falling Object Injuries
Some work related injuries are caused falling objects. For example, someone drops an item they are holding, or something falls from an overhead shelf. These workplace accidents can cause serious head injuries.
Hard hats and other protection gear are essential on certain jobs to prevent falling object injuries. Securing overhead loads and using a spotter when moving them can help prevent accidents.
"High stacking" materials and supplies increases the threat of falling object injuries. Sometimes, prevention is as simple as good housekeeping and organizing.
5. Repetitive Motion Injuries
Rpetitive motion injuries, also called repetitive stress injuries, are less obvious that other types of workplace injuries. However, they can cause serious long-term damage to the body.
Computer eye strain and carpal tunnel syndrome are two examples of work related stress injuries. Sometimes, repetitive motions can lead to permanent vision problems, chronic neck or back pain, and other physical issues.
Ergonomics, the science of adjusting work to fit the body, is one way to prevent repetitive motion injuries. Ergonomic equipment, such as a stand-up desk in the office, can help. Employee training is also important to reduce stress injuries on the job.
What To Do If You Are Injured at Work
What should you do if you are injured on the job? The Workers' Compensation Board for the State of New York offers the following suggestions:
1. Treat your injury. Obtain first aid and other necessary treatment immediately. For non-emergency injuries, seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Follow your doctor's instructions.
2. Notify your employer. After you receive the necessary medical treatment, notify your employer about the injury. If you fail to inform your employer in a timely manner, you may lose your right to workers' compensation benefits.
3. File a workers' compensation claim. After you treat your injury and notify your employer, complete a workers' compensation claim and file it with the proper office. If you fail to do this in a timely manner, you may lose your right to benefits.
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- BLS. (n.d.) "Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities." Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved October 22, 2013.
- Copeland, Julie. (n.d.) "Workplace Accidents: Ten Most Common Workplace Injuries." Arbil. Retrieved October 21, 2013.
- Mayo Clinic. (September 11, 2012) "Back Pain." Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Retrieved October 22, 2013.
- New York State. (n.d.) "What to Do If You Are Injured on the Job." Workers' Compensation Board. Retrieved October 21, 2013.
- Solis, Hilda. (April 28, 2011). "One is Too Many." Work in Progress. Retrieved October 21, 2013.
The information presented in this article is not intended as medical advice, nor is it a substitute for diagnosis or treatment by a qualified medical professional
© 2013 Annette R. Smith