Tens of thousands of US workers are injured on the job each year. While most of these injuries are minor, consisting of nothing more than scraps and bruises, others are more serious, often requiring hospitalization and extensive rehabilitation. Employers should do their part to create a safe working environment for their employees, something that we’re going to discuss further in today’s blog post.
Let’s first talk about the most common types of work-related injuries, as many workers have little-to-no idea what they are. According to Liberty Mutual’s 2008 Safety Index, they are falls from same level, overexertion, repetitive motion, falls from elevated surface, bodily reaction, struck by object, struck against object, automobile accident, caught in between, and violent acts (in order from most common to least).
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has made great strides in recent years to reduce the number of work-related injuries in the US. And while the total number of incidents continues to decline year after year, it remains a top priority for the Administration.
Here are some simple ways to reduce work-related injuries:
- Employers should provide their workers with the appropriate Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). Not supplying workers with PPE is a violation of OSHA’s guidelines and could result in fines, citations or other consequences.
- Encourage workers to report injuries in a timely manner. Many incidents go unreported simply because the worker and/or employer doesn’t want the extra attention from OSHA. Unfortunately, though, not reporting injuries restricts OSHA from valuable data that could be used to prevent future injuries or even save lives. The bottom line is that workers should always report injuries to their employer.
- Clean spilled water, oil, and other liquids in a timely manner. As noted above, “falls from same level” are the single most common type of work-related injury. Injuries such as this, however, are easily avoided by cleaning spilled liquids and placing a sign over it.
- Encourage workers to lift heavy loads with their legs, not their back. Although it didn’t make the list of the top 10 most common work-related injuries, tens of thousands of workers sustain back strains each year.
- Hold regular “toolbox talks” meetings. What in the world is a toolbox talks meeting? It’s essentially a short meeting among employers and workers that’s centered around a particular workplace safety topic.