While workplace injuries are down by 68 percent since the 1970s according to OSHA, there is still a long way to go toward the goal of eliminating workplace injuries entirely. In 2017, 5,147 American workers died on the job. Over 20 percent of those deaths were in the construction industry.
US Standard Products examines the problem of workplace injuries and offers suggestions for reducing these injuries and keeping all workers safe.
The occupations suffering the highest incidence of nonfatal occupational illness and injury are nursing and residential care facilities with an incidence of 10.9 injuries for every 100 full-time workers. This is three times the incidence rate of all industries combined. This surprising statistic underscores the fact that not all workplace injuries are in fields traditionally thought of as dangerous. Workplace injuries in nursing and residential care are often related to improper lifting and combative residents. Another surprisingly high incidence of nonfatal accidents and injuries is in pet and pet supplies stores. These stores have an incidence of 8 per 100 full-time workers.
Most Common Workplace Injuries
Slips and falls make up one-third of all workplace injuries. These are cited as a top cause of workers’ compensation cases. Preventing slips and trips comes down to making sure the walking surface is dry, even, and free of debris or wrinkled carpet. Poor lighting, obstructed view, and uncovered cables are three common causes of tripping in the workplace.
Reducing slips and falls involves a combination of proper housekeeping, footwear, and training. When there are spills in the workplace, employees need to be trained to clean them up immediately or alert the proper cleaning staff to do so.
Another common cause of workplace injury is being struck by or caught in moving machinery. This can cause severe injuries or death. Preventing machinery injuries involves protecting machine parts from interference. Workers must be properly trained and receive all necessary safety equipment.
The third most common cause of workplace injuries is vehicle-related transportation accidents. Vehicle-related injuries are most common in agriculture, but they have the potential to injure people in any line of work. To prevent these from happening, managers must find out who is most at risk for vehicle accidents. Workplace design is key to preventing transportation injuries. It is vital to keep trucks away from places where employees will be walking and minimize the prevalence of blind corners.
The fourth most common risk of workplace injury is from fires and explosions. Problems with gas service are most likely to cause the accident, though combustible materials stored unsafely are another major problem. Burns, respiratory damage, and explosion-related damage are three of the most common issues with workplace fires.
All workplaces should have up-to-date disaster plans, including fire evacuation plans. Workers should be trained to recognize whether the equipment or material they work with has a risk of causing a fire, and they should know what to do when a fire breaks out. With time and thought given to fire prevention, these injuries can be reduced.
Finally, the fifth most common workplace injuries are repetitive stress injuries. Carpal tunnel, overuse injuries, and problems related to sitting or standing too long are all common. Back pain is another common problem. Back pain complaints can lead to 100 million workdays lost per year. Preventing back injuries should be one of the key steps of creating a workplace safety plan. Proper footwear, time to rest, and ergonomic training are all ways to reduce this problem.
Solving the Problem
Eliminating workplace injuries comes down to training, proper safety equipment, and making sure that employees have adequate rest periods. US Standard Products supports workplace safety and recommends that all company owners and managers take the potential of workplace injury seriously. Working together, companies can reduce the incidence of injuries, illnesses, and lost work days.