Today’s workplace injury statistics are pretty staggering. Every day in America, more than 12,000 people are injured on the job, according to National Safety Council data. The vast majority of these injuries involve minor sprains, cuts, or muscle/joint soreness (often from sitting and working in the same position for hours on end).
But when it comes to injuries that create the most lost workdays (i.e. greatest losses in productivity), the leading culprits are different. Overexertion, contact with heavy objects, and slips/falls top the list. Luckily, these types of loss events are often easily preventable. Here are 10 tips to help employers create safer work environments:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. Improve the physically demanding task of cleaning 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.
4. 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.
5. Install a platform near your dumpster. A simple step-up platform makes it easier to dump heavy trash bags without straining.
6. Newer equipment can often help prevent the category of workplace injury known as Occupational overuse syndrome (OOS) which is another name for repetitive strain injury or RSI.
7. Encourage workers to stretch throughout their day. Post signs to remind them. You might even recommend a specific routine of stretching exercises, and offer a contest or small reward for workers who consistently follow the guidelines.
8. Provide easy access to water. Believe it or not, even low-level dehydration significantly affects how people function and how quickly their brains can process information.