Exposure to unsafe working environments and poor biomechanical movements can put the workforce at higher risk of injury or illness. Companies can be impacted by higher insurance rates, reduced productivity, worker’s compensation, and declining workforce morale. Although the potential for workplace environments is ever-present, it’s important to minimize risk factors. In order to identify and vastly prevent workplace injuries, this article will outline the top 4 common causes and how to correct them.
Overexertion, Strain, and Exhaustion
Overexertion (or straining) is identified as when someone often pushes themselves past their limits. Straining can cause fractures, sprains, and other musculoskeletal injuries. Mental exhaustion can also cause a variety of disorders, such as anxiety and depression, burnout, insomnia, and more.
Straining most often occurs when a worker is required to lift or pull heavy objects, move in small or confined spaces, or labor for long periods of time. To minimize overexertion in the workplace, companies can modify policies, such as prohibiting solo lifting of heavy objects, teaching workers proper lifting techniques, and scheduling break times.
Repetitive Stress Movements
Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSIs) occur when someone uses the same repeated movement overtime on small level tasks leading to cumulative trauma disorders. RSIs can cause swelling, throbbing, tingling, and moderate to severe pain in overused joints. The most common RSIs are carpal tunnel syndrome, bursitis, tendonitis, and trigger finger.
Computer and office work, stocking and packing, and assembly lines are common tasks that cause RSIs as workers often use the same muscle group, repetitive movement, carry heavy loads and/or maintain improper posture for long periods of time.
RSIs are difficult to prevent and even harder to stop from worsening. Employers should implement policies that allow workers to take breaks and move around. Moreover, innovative gadgets can be used to maintain good posture, relieve strain from certain joints, and stretch unused muscle groups.
Slips and Trips
Objects in high-traffic locations, liquid spills, and poorly lit hallways and stairways are all examples of unsafe working environments that can cause employees to slip or trip. Such accidents can result in sprains or fractures, concussions or other head trauma, and potentially internal bleeding.
By becoming aware of common workplace hazards, slips and trips can be easily prevented. Mats and grates can be placed to cover slippery surfaces. Cords and cables should be taped down to be easily bypassed. Boxes, carts, and other large objects should be moved aside for a clear walkway. Lastly, hallways and stairways should be well-lit for peak visibility.
Toppling and Falling Objects
Similar to slips and trips, falling objects and toppling from large heights can cause severe injuries such as sprains or fractures, traumatic head injuries, and internal bleeding. Moreover, some events might even be fatal. Common hazards are tall pieces of furniture that aren’t anchored to the ground, working from large heights, and improperly stacked items.
The most common solution to falling objects and toppling is personal protective equipment (PPE). However, PPE doesn’t reduce the risk of such events, just minimizes injury. True solutions would be regular analysis of large structures for stability and security, standardized organization of products on shelves, and frequent communication among team members.
Although the risk for workplace injuries is always present, their likelihood can easily be minimized by taking preemptive measures. Identify common causes of injuries in your workplace and actively work to prevent their occurrence. Furthermore, through muscular-based ergonomics, HFit’s BioErgo suit can assist in preventing some workplace injuries while prohibiting current injuries from worsening. Follow the Total Worker Health approach in order to protect your workforce from preventable injuries.