Welcome to the final installment of Arbill’s three-part blog series on the five most common accidents in the workplace. Part 1 and Part 2 in this series focused on the unexpected: fires, explosions, falls and faulty equipment. We hope you’ve found this week’s safety tips and suggestions helpful.
For the final installment in our series on common workplace accidents we’d like to turn your focus to a set of workplace injuries that have recently become prevalent for all types of businesses. These injuries occur over time but are equally as treacherous as the first four types of workplace accidents outlined in this week’s posts.
5. Overexertion And Repetitive Stress Injuries
Although more subtle than a catastrophic explosion, musculoskeletal disorders are the most costly workplace injuries. Complaints of back pain alone cost employers an estimated $7.4 billion annually and lead to 100 million lost workdays annually. These kinds of injuries contribute to loss of productivity and millions in direct costs. They also result in millions in annual health benefit payout costs.
The financial impact on the employer is one thing, but the long-term effects on workers are often severe and potentially debilitating.
Overexertion injuries are related to pulling, lifting, pushing, holding, carrying and throwing. They account for close to 30% of occupational injuries. Oddly, they are common amongst the youngest workers.
Similarly, RSIs (Repetitive Stress Injuries) are the fasting growing category of workplace injury and comprise more than 100 different types of job-induced injuries from wear and tear on the body. Both overexertion and RSIs are severe enough to inhibit simple activities with crippling and debilitating pain, not to mention severe impairment of movement. They may even eventually permanently impair a worker’s ability to perform his or her job.
Causes of overexertion and RSIs, include:
- Improper Lifting -- Bending at the waist instead of at the knees when carrying or moving heavy objects.
- Manually Lifting Heavy Objects -- Especially objects weighing over 50 pounds, without the assistance of a co-worker or lifting device (manual or mechanical).
- No Breaks -- With repetitive work, short breaks should be required, or the work may eventually result in too much wear and tear on the body.
- Speeding Up The Line -- Automation has created work conditions that are faster and often reduced to limited, repetitive tasks.
- Intensive Keying -- Constant typing and clicking strains muscles and tendons.
What should you do about overexertion and RSIs in your workplace?
Ergonomics -- the science of adjusting the job to fit the body’s needs -- provides injury prevention solutions that are simple and relatively inexpensive. Workers assigned to tasks that overexert or require repetitive motion should be required to take frequent short breaks to rest and stretch. Manual or mechanical lifting equipment should be provided, especially in cases where the items lifted are over 50 pounds. Varying workers tasks to break up the repetitiveness is also beneficial.
Thanks for checking back with the Arbill Blog for this three-part series on tips and suggestions for how to avoid workplace hazards.
Would you like to learn more about how to create a safe workplace and protect your employees? Call 800-523-5367 or click on the button below to speak with a safety specialist at Arbill.