Accidents can happen anywhere and at any time. Injuries at work can occur in any industry. Therefore, it is important to understand common accidents in the workplace in order to understand related prevention strategies. A recent Liberty Mutual Safety study (source) identified the top 10 causes of serious, nonfatal workplace accidents. These accidents at work account for over $58 billion in direct workers compensation costs in the U.S. The good news is that most accidents are preventable. Below is a summary of the common causes. Following this list, we included five tips to prevent these type of workplace accidents.
- Overexertion involving outside sources
- Falls on same level
- Falls to lower level
- Struck by object or equipment
- Other exertions or bodily reactions
- Roadway incidents involving motorized vehicles
- Slip or trip without fall
- Caught in or compressed by equipment or objects
- Struck against object or equipment
- Repetitive motions
First, ensure all employees complete site-specific training. Employers should conduct training on a regular basis and cover a wide range of topics in order to address the hazards that employees will face on a daily basis. The training material should instruct employees how to follow safety procedures based on the specific hazards associated with their job. Many employers find it helpful to conduct training monthly and then emphasize the training topic all month through various communications, signage, etc.
2) Personal Protective Equipment
Second, all employees need to wear personal protective equipment as issued. This could be safety eyewear, earplugs, a back brace, harness, face shield, etc. Personal protective equipment is often the first line of defense in preventing workplace accidents. If employees do not properly use personal protective equipment, then it could expose an employee to a workplace hazard that may result in an injury.
Third, focus on ergonomics. Repetitive stress caused by common tasks can be a significant hazard. Conducting an ergonomic assessment of office and operational hazards can help to minimize the exposure to employees. Providing employees with ergonomic tools is also important. This may include an anti-fatigue floor mat, an ergonomic keyboard/mouse, ergonomic chair, etc.
4) Slips, Trips and Falls
Fourth, it is important to take steps to minimize slips, trips and falls. Keeping aisles clear of obstacles, providing adequate lighting, and using slip resistant flooring are tools that can help ensure the workplace environment is free from hazards associated with slip, trips and falls. Many employers find it helpful to assign portions of the workplace to certain employees who are responsible for identifying these types of hazards.
5) Culture of Safety
Fifth, create a culture of safety. Once employees understand how to safely perform their role (training) and have the equipment to do their job safely and effectively, then it is important to create a culture where employees are advocates for safety. Each employee should feel empowered to help identify safety concerns and communicate opportunities for improvement to his or her supervisor. Creating and maintaining a safety culture takes time and requires support from all levels of the company.
By following the above strategies, an organization can minimize common accidents in the workplace. Accidents will happen, but organizations that implement the above strategies will certainly reduce the potential for accidents in the workplace. As a Trusted Choice Independent Agency, the Oswego-based FitzGibbons Agency is here to help you in your review of safety practices in your company.
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