Employee safety in the workplace is a serious issue. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), every 7 seconds, a worker is injured on the job. This amounts to 12,600 injuries daily, 88,500 injuries weekly, and 4,600,000 injuries annually. Injuries can happen in practically any type of workplace, including in an office setting.
Nearly all injuries sustained are preventable in one way or another. The key to workplace safety is the provision of preventative knowledge to keep workers aware of the ever-present dangers looming around them daily. Here we will take a close look at workplace safety and how it can be maintained.
A Look at Employee Injuries
Accidents happen in the workplace so rapidly that it can seem like there was no warning before disaster struck. However, the truth is that there are generally specific actions (or lack thereof) that lead to injuries in the workplace. Being conscientious about what one is doing and one’s surroundings help to reduce the odds that harm will occur significantly.
The three most common types of workplace injuries are:
a. Lowering or lifting
b. Repetitive movements
2. Contact with equipment or objects
a. Compressed by or caught in machinery or objects
b. Struck by or against equipment or object
c. Compressed by or caught in equipment or objects
3. Trips, slips, and falls
a. Falls on the same level
b. Falls to a lower level
Occupations with Increased Injuries
We established that injuries could take place in any workplace, but there are specific environments that leave workers more likely to sustain an injury of some sort. The five most likely occupations with the highest number of reported injuries are:
- Installation, maintenance, and repair
To address national concerns about employee safety, the Department of Labor established the Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration (OSHA), this agency is a byproduct of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. Both the legislation and the administration exist to “ensure the safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and providing training, outreach, education, and assistance.”
Despite the governmental oversight and regulation, an onslaught of technological innovation, and an awakened emphasis on safety in the workplace, safety conditions have not improved much over recent years. Based on accumulated claims, approximately 135-million workers are qualified for workers compensation.
Even with billions being spent by corporations nationally to develop safety awareness programs, little has changed in regards to overall safety in the workplace. A curative measure can be identifying the specific threats that workers face daily in their immediate surroundings and giving them the knowledge to reprogram their responses, reactions, and interactions to and with their work environment.
There are hazards and potential threats in all work environments. Let’s take a closer look at the risks and dangers seen in specific industries, as reported by OSHA.
- Transportation: As one of the most dangerous industries, transportation is of particular interest. More than 900 driver sales workers and truckers died while on the job.
- Manufacturing: Thousands of manufacturing workers are seriously injured, and 300 are fatally wounded on the job.
- Warehousing: Between 2015 to 2016, there was a 45% increase in accidents that resulted in fatalities of warehouse workers.
- Coal and Mining: There has been a 140% increase in the Coal and Petroleum Products Manufacturing sector.
- Oil and Gas: Over 11 years, over 1,300 oil and gas workers were fatally wounded on the job.
There must be a customized and continuous solution to make the workplace safer for employees. The following practices will likely improve workplace injury statistics in every sector:
- Preemptive Measures: Instilling measures that will decrease the chances of injury are the first thing that should be done to ensure employee safety (i.e., stretching before work).
- Ongoing Training: Most companies implement training when a worker is hired, but revisiting the training periodically will keep it fresh on the mind of the staff.
- Incentives: Positive reinforcement goes a long way. Reward workers for their contributions and caution.
- Ownership: Instill a sense of ownership in the workplace for your staff. Listen to workers’ suggestions and hold safety meetings where input is encouraged.
Regardless of the environment that you work in, it is vital to keep safety at the forefront of your mind. Maintaining a high level of alertness and caution are mostly the key ingredients to a safer workplace. Ultimately, safety must be woven into the culture of a company.
This content is sponsored by Susan Ranford.