Workplace injuries are more common than you think. In 2016, there were over 2.9 million workplace injuries reported in the United States.
Every workplace is vulnerable to accidents and injuries. The types of injuries likely to happen vary based on the workplace environment.
Have you experienced an injury at work? Or have you noticed hazards and potential risks in your workplace? The best way to prevent injuries is learning about the hazards; in turn, you can make your workplace a safer place to work. Keep reading to find out the eight most common workplace injuries and how you can prevent them.
1. Repetitive Motion Injuries (RMI)
Whenever you’re repeating the same motion over time, you’re at risk for injury. This applies to anyone, from factory workers to receptionists.
All jobs have routine activities. For some, that’s typing on a keyboard for eight hours a day; for others, it’s loading boxes into a truck.
Using your muscles repetitively in the same way will lead to strain. Strain turns into injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome and muscle pain.
To prevent these injuries from happening, it’s important to stretch often. Before and after the repetitive work, stretch your muscles. Then, take frequent breaks during the day to rest your muscles.
2. Slipping and Tripping
Tripping is a universal workplace hazard. No matter the industry, clutter gets left on the ground. People will inevitably be distracted, not watching where they are walking, and trip on the clutter.
Slipping is common in workplaces that work with liquids, as well as in workplace lunchrooms where drinks might get spilled.
Employees need to clean up their personal spills. Large spills on the ground need to have a hazard sign, and janitorial staff should be alerted right away.
Clutter is an issue that can be rectified with organization. Discourage coworkers from placing clutter in walkways, hallways, and near exits to prevent tripping.
3. Cuts and Wounds
The culprits for workplace cuts are usually untrained employees and faulty equipment. Some common objects that cause lacerations are paper cutters and box cutters.
Employees must learn how to use every piece of equipment with a blade. Even office equipment as straightforward as a paper cutter needs instruction. Include this training in the orientation.
It’s the employer’s job to ensure equipment is safe to use. If you notice a piece of equipment is faulty, notify your boss right away. Do not use a faulty piece of equipment even if your employer pressures you.
4. Exposure to Mold
This workplace hazard is one to which you might not even know you’re at risk. Older buildings are notorious for mold growing in the walls. Water damage and humidity over the years can cause mold growth.
Building maintenance should be a priority for your employer or landlord. Older buildings, as well as buildings that are at higher risk for moisture damage, need to be checked for signs of mold, including the walls, attic, and basement. Asbestos is also very important to check for in older buildings.
Mold and asbestos exposure over time can lead to a lung disease called asbestosis. Unfortunately, you might not be aware of it until a decade after initial exposure. It’s crucial that your employer is proactive about preventing mold and asbestos exposure.
5. Exposure to Toxic Fumes
Specific workplaces deal with toxic chemicals and hazardous materials. Workers in these types of environmnets are prone to sicknesses from inhaling toxic fumes.
To prevent this, make sure you always wear protective gear when handling chemicals. Even if you’re in the same room as open chemical bottles, wear safety gear.
Your skin, eyes, and lungs are very vulnerable to irritation from toxic fumes.
6. Strain Injuries
These injuries are different from RMIs. Rather than occurring from routine motion, these types of injuries occur from a movement or action that isn’t performed as often.
Because workers might not perform these actions regularly, they might not know how to execute them safely. An example would be an office employee who needs to lift a very heavy box. Their training doesn’t teach how to lift heavy boxes safely, so they’re more likely to suffer injuries from this type of activity.
All training programs should teach how to safely lift heavy objects, and also climb a ladder. It’s important to always use ergonomic posture and positioning. When heavy lifting, bend with your knees and keep your back straight, and use the strength of your legs to lift the item, rather than your back. Whenever possible, transport the heavy item with a dolly, or hand truck.
7. Loud Noise Exposure
Did you know that 10 million Americans have suffered from loud noise exposure? A great deal of exposure to loud noise results in hearing loss. Hearing damage adversely affects not only your ability to hear, but also your ability to sleep, think, and concentrate.
Workers who use loud machinery are at risk of hearing damage. This is common in the construction industry. Construction workers need to wear industry-grade earplugs to protect their ears.
When protective gear isn’t worn, workers who are exposure to loud noises or machinery regularly could develop hearing impairment. They may also develop tinnitus. Employers should provide training and equipment to all workers for loud noise exposure.
8. Falling Object Injuries
Workers need to understand the importance of securing items on shelves so that they don’t fall. It sounds like a rare occurrence, but injuries from falling objects happen more often than many people realize.
It’s everyone’s responsibility to properly secure objects on shelves when putting them away. Be aware of your surroundings when walking around the workplace. Look around in all directions, including up, when moving around the space.
These injuries can also be a result of irresponsible employees. They’re common in the roofing industry when objects are often thrown down from the roof. All employees need to have training on how and when to toss objects down to prevent injuries.
Have You Experienced Workplace Injuries?
As a worker, it’s your responsibility to know your rights. Some situations in the workplace are your employer’s responsibility. Other times it’s your job to keep yourself safe.
Be aware of the hazards and risks you face every day at work. Has your employer trained you on how to properly use equipment and protect yourself? Do you feel safe at work?
As we discussed in this list, some injuries take years to show up. Be proactive to prevent these injuries.