According to the 2012 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, last year’s 5 most common causes of work related injuries were overexertion, same-level falls, bodily reactions, lower-level falls, and being struck by an object. Below is some information about each of these and what can be done to prevent them.
Overexertion occurs when the body is pushed beyond its healthy limits. One of the most common instances of overexertion takes place when an employee receives a minor injury and chooses to keep working, thus making the injury worse.
Overexertion can easily be prevented by listening to your body. If performing any task causes pain, you need to stop immediately, speak with your supervisor and consult with a medical professional. Other methods include maintaining a healthy lifestyle with diet and exercise, taking breaks when necessary, utilizing proper lifting technique, organizing the work place to reduce excessive reaching (for example, lowering shelf height), and using equipment that is properly adjusted to your body size.
A same-level fall is a fall that takes place on a relatively level area in which the worker impacts the level in which they were standing (or working). Same-level falls are best prevented by keeping your work area clean. This means leaving no debris, work tools or spills in open areas. Same-level falls can also happen when a tool malfunctions and causes the user to lose his or her balance. To prevent this from happening, be sure to never use tools that need maintenance and be sure to regularly check your tools for breaks and missing parts. Another way of preventing same-level fall injuries is by wearing proper safety equipment. Examples may include hard hats, steel-toed boots, gloves, or slip-resistant footwear.
Bodily reaction injuries result from free bodily motions. These include climbing, reaching, bending, tripping without falling, etc.. Bodily reaction injuries can be prevented with some of the methods we discussed in the previous two sections. These include having a regular exercise routine, lifting properly, utilizing the best ergonomics, keeping a clean work area, and using well-maintained tools and safety equipment.
Lower-level falls occur when someone falls onto a level that is lower than where they were originally working (for example, falling to the ground from a ladder). One of the best ways to prevent lower-level falls is to have the right type of equipment (scaffold, ladders, etc.) for the job and to make sure that all of it is in safe condition. For working on high levels like roofs, safety devices such as harnesses can also be provided. Also, when working from heights, jumping and exaggerated reaches should be COMPLETELY avoided. Falling from heights can cause very serious injuries.
Struck by and Object
These happen when the worker is hit with something (a tool falling from a shelf, something thrown, etc.). Because so many of these injuries occur when items fall from shelves, it’s crucial that you safely put away all of your tools and NEVER leave anything hanging over an edge. Furthermore, the heaviest items should be kept on the lower shelves and storage areas.
Also, tools (or anything else) should NEVER be thrown. Even in friendly situations, like saying to your coworker “Hey, toss me that tool man!”. This is extremely unsafe and there is no excuse for it.
Remember to always follow properly procedures and to stop working immediately if you are ever injured in any way. If you have suffered from one of the injuries mentioned in this article and feel you were not given Pennsylvania workers’ compensation benefits you are entitled to, contact a workers’ compensation attorney right away.