Common Workplace Injuries and How to Avoid Them
Article from “Orillia Today” newspaper: October 2016 edition.
Workers spend roughly eight hours at their workplaces each day, and many workers must be careful to avoid workplace injuries over the course of a typical work-day. According to a recent FindLaw survey, workplace injuries are common, with one in five American adults saying they have suffered an injury while on the job. Statistics Canada notes that an estimated 4.27 million Canadians aged 12 or older suffered an injury severe enough to limit their usual activities in 2009 and 2010. Although many of these injuries were attributed to adolescents and seniors, working age adults see their share of injuries as well.
The employees most susceptible to injury are those working in dangerous areas, such as construction sites and factories, but just about any worker can suffer a workplace injury on the job. Knowing the most common injuries can help individuals take preemptive steps to limit behaviours that may lead to injuries on the job. The following are some of the most common and disabling workplace injuries, according to the Workplace Safety Index:
- Overexertion: Overexertion can lead to multiple musculoskeletal injuries, including sprains, muscle pulls and tears. Heavy lifting and lowering of items affects the back, which is the part of the body most often injured on the job. Workers should not push their bodies to extremes. Braces and other supports can protect the back, shoulders and other vulnerable body parts from injury. Lifting should always be done with the legs and not the back.
- Slips and Falls: Falling on wet and slippery floors is another common workplace injury. While many falls occur on level surfaces, falls from elevated areas such as ladders and stairways can also occur. Spills should be mopped up promptly and caution signage should be used on slippery surfaces. Workers should wear the right footwear for the job and environment.
- Reaction Injuries: These involve trauma to the body from slipping and tripping without actually falling. It can be difficult to prevent these types of injuries, but always being aware of your surroundings can reduce your risk for reaction injuries.
- Falling Object Injuries: Workers can be injured by falling objects. These injuries are most common in warehouses or construction sites. Proper protective gear, such as helmets and hard hats, can keep employees safe, as can maintaining a hazard-free environment.
- Vehicular Accidents: Automotive accidents can lead to injuries for workers who must drive as part of their job. Employers can ask that all employees who drive routinely enroll in safe driving courses and can monitor any health conditions that can lead to impaired driving.
- Machine Entanglement: Injuries can occur when employees get caught in or compressed by large and dangerous equipment, which is common in factories. All employees should be trained in machinery operation to avoid these types of accidents.
- Repetitive Motion Injuries: Repetitive motions, such as typing, pushing buttons, pulling levers, or bending and squatting can strain muscles and tendons. Although these conditions are not as obvious as others at the onset, over time they can become harmful and painful. Vision problems from staring at a computer and carpal tunnel syndrome are some common repetitive motion injuries. Take frequent breaks and use ergonomic equipment to alleviate these conditions.
Many companies have workers’ compensation programs in place to help employees stay afloat after suffering workplace injuries. Should any injury occur at work, employees are advised to follow the proper protocol for reporting the injury and getting treatment.