“Every day in America, 13 people go to work and never come home. Every year in America, nearly 4 million people suffer a workplace injury and may never recover.” -- Secretary of Labor, Hila Solis, Workers Memorial Day speech, April 26, 2012
Chilling statics like these are why the Arbill Blog is highlighting the five most common workplace accidents this week. Our aim is to provide you with preventative safety tips and suggestions that help reduce on-the-job calamities.
Earlier this week we posted Part 1 in this series, which discussed slips, trips and falls and mechanical hazards. In today’s post, we’re exploring two more common workplace accidents with a particularly high potential for injury or fatality.
3. Transportation And Vehicle-Related Accidents
Where there is equipment, vehicles and large trucks, there’s the potential for vehicle-related accidents. These accidents include being struck or run over by a moving vehicle, falling from a vehicle, being struck by objects falling from a vehicle and getting crushed by or stuck under an overturned vehicle. Vehicle-related accidents are the most common cause of fatal injuries in the agriculture industry but they can be equally catastrophic in industrial or manufacturing environments as well.
There are two distinct kinds of vehicle-related accidents.
- On The Road -- Workers can be injured or killed after being struck by a vehicle while repairing roads or other work in traffic zones.
- In The Workplace -- Operators of vehicles and equipment can be injured or cause injury to pedestrians.
Avoiding workplace transportation accidents begins with assessing who is at risk, as well as where and when they most commonly occur. Only then are prevention measures -- such as vehicle/worker orientation and safe systems of work -- more easily established. Focus should be placed on workplace design: layout routes should always segregate pedestrians and vehicles and any obstructions should be clearly visible. Directions, speed limit and priority signs are also helpful.
4. Fire And Explosions
Unexpected explosions and fires in the workplace are frequently caused by risk factors such as faulty gas lines, poor pipefitting, improperly stored combustible materials or open flames. The resulting injuries incurred include damage to the respiratory system, varying degrees of burns and potential disfigurement. Explosions and fires account for 3% of workplace injuries and have the highest casualty rate of all probable workplace accidents.
There are four types of injuries commonly associated with fires and explosions:
- Primary Blast Injuries -- Occurs due to the effects of pressure on body tissues, affecting ears, lungs and the GI tract.
- Secondary Blast Injuries -- Occurs when flying objects strike nearby workers.
- Tertiary Blast Injuries -- High-energy explosions can lift someone off the ground and cause them to fly into surrounding objects.
- Quaternary Blast Injuries -- Everything else that happens as a result of an explosion: crush injuries, burns and inhalation of toxic substances.
OSHA recommends following its hazard communication standards to help workers avoid fire and explosion injuries. In addition, material safety data sheets (MSDS) for chemicals should be kept on hand and employees should wear personal protective equipment at all times. Also, every workplace should have a clearly communicated evacuation plan and an effective alert system in place to quickly inform everyone of hazards and emergency situations.
Did you find these safety tips and suggestions helpful? Tune in to the Arbill Blog later this week when we’ll examine one more common workplace hazard and how to avoid it.