Industry Insights for Petroleum Marketers
April 11, 2016
From our partners at EMC Insurance:
Three Strategies to Prevent Overexertion Injuries
Overexertion injuries, typically known as sprains or strains, are a top cause of employee injury for petroleum marketers. It affects everyone from bulk plant employees loading barrels to convenience store workers carrying beverage dispensing supplies. And overexertion injuries aren’t cheap, averaging nearly $20,000* per claim on top of the other damage to your business, such as loss of productivity or the effort to find replacements for injured employees. You likely can’t eliminate all lifting by your employees, but there are things you can do to decrease their risk of injury.
Use Storage Space Effectively
Storing heavy items—cases of beer, boxes of syrup for fountain machines or bottles of cooking oil—on high shelves or directly on the floor can increase the risk of back strain for employees who need to lift or move them. Even lightweight items like cigarettes can create an overexertion hazard when they are stored in a location requiring employees to reach overhead frequently to retrieve them. To reduce the risk of strains and sprains, store heavy or frequently-used items on shelves between knee and waist level, where they will be easiest for employees to remove and lift safely.
Offer the Right Tools
Provide carts, dollies and other material handling aids for employees who need to move heavy or awkward items, especially if those items need to be moved more than a short distance. Improve the physically demanding task of cleaning the floors by replacing heavy cotton loop mops with lightweight microfiber mops that require less force to maneuver. Use mop buckets with drain openings so they can be emptied right into a floor drain or a sink mounted on the ground instead of being lifted and dumped in a sink at waist level. Make it easier to take out the trash by adding holes near the bottom of garbage cans to reduce the suction created when the bag is pulled out. A simple step-up platform next to the dumpster can also make it easier to dump heavy trash bags without straining.
Invest in Injury Prevention
Upgrading to newer equipment can help your staff work more efficiently while reducing overexertion injuries from reaching and lifting. Even retrofitted improvements to your existing equipment—such as top-mounted ice makers for fountain dispensers or LED fuel price kits that can be mounted on existing signs—can help reduce the risk of overexertion injuries from carrying heavy ice buckets to fill dispensers or reaching overhead to manually change outdoor signs.