You already know that workplace injuries hurt everyone: the worker, the project and the company's bottom line. Yet most common injuries are preventable. Here's a look at frequently reported injuries and how you can improve safety at work by learning how to prevent them.
Cuts, Lacerations and Punctures
These account for the lion's share of work-related hand injuries, and because we use our hands for nearly every job, a hand injury almost guarantees you'll pay for lost work time. Some lacerations occur with specialized equipment, but more often they happen with common cutting tools.
While some injuries are due to poor handling, many can be prevented with simple design features that enhance safety. For instance, consider the task of cutting double-corrugated boxes, where you need less than an half inch blade to penetrate the cardboard. Most people use box cutters with the blades extended too far, increasing the risk of a serious cut and damaged contents. There's a secondary risk here too, and it's when users don't retract blades between uses when performing successive cutting tasks. Upgrading to small, auto-retractable safety box cutters is a reliable way to reduce the risks posed by poor handling.
Another risk happens when a box cutter blade needs to be replaced. Steel blades need to be replaced often, whereas Slice ceramic blades maintain their sharpness up to 10 times longer, reducing the time and frequency in which employees will need to handle blades.
Slips and Falls
Even when a stumble doesn't result in an actual fall, workers often bang into furniture or walls, resulting in bruises or sprains. Actual falls can bring severe injuries. That's why nearly every retail outlet and restaurant has clear signage for wet floors: customer slips lead to injury lawsuits. But worker slips are just as much of a risk to occupational health and safety, if not more; they lead to lost time, lost work, and typically worker's comp claims.
Take a quick walk through your workplace. Are there tile or laminate areas that are a magnet for spills? Any rugs with awkward or frayed edges? Cords encroaching on high-traffic zones? Are any parts of the flooring in poor repair? Transition zones, such as doorways, are particularly hazardous.
Here are some simple, low cost solutions that help mitigate the risk of slips and falls and improve safety at work:
- Smooth transition areas by ensuring that trim is low profile and properly installed.
- Use proper trim and over-the-floor cord protectors to secure cables and extension cords that run along walls and across doorways, and arrange for damaged flooring to be repaired or replaced promptly.
- Place non-slip mats in areas that collect liquids.
- Ensure stairs are well lit, have hand rails that are in good repair and non-slip treads in place.
This type of injury, most frequently associated with workers who type for long periods of time, can affect anybody that performs to any kind of repeated action. Healing can take a long time, especially when the work requires the troublesome action, and the best cure is prevention.
The good news is that industrial designers and manufacturers are learning more about how our bodies work and creating ergonomic versions of almost every tool. From office chairs that promote correct posture to ergonomic keyboards to fresh designs for the humble that make it easy to grip, it's worth paying attention to new ideas about how we work with our tools. The minimal cost of replacing clumsy tools with ergonomic safety box cutters should make sense to any CFO and HR manager when compared to the cost of injuries.
Most injury prevention strategies fall into two categories:
- Education: includes signage and employing proper technique
- Equipment/Facilities: making sure it's safe, up-to-date, and in good repair
Combine these workplace safety tips with a strong knowledge of how people move and work in the workplace, and it's possible to avoid hazards and improve safety at work.
This post has been written by TJ Scimone for Slice published on 9th March 2016
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