According to a 2011 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the most common workplace injuries resulting in the most missed days -- by a long shot -- are sprains, strains and tears. These nonfatal musculoskeletal work-related injuries account for 38% of all injuries in the workplace.
The most common source of sprains, strains and tears is overexertion and repetitive stress injuries (RSI). The most common of all sprains, strains and tears -- due to lifting and lowering -- are back injuries (36% of all injuries).
Although sprains, strains and tears don’t receive the same kind of attention that fatal accidents do, sprains, strains and tears are the most costly of the common workplace injuries. Complaints of back pain alone cost employers an estimated $7.4 billion annually and lead to 100 million lost workdays annually.
The financial impact on the employer is outrageous, but the long-term effects on workers are often very severe and potentially debilitating.
The part we must stress the most is that sprains, strains and tears are 100% preventable!
What Factors In The Workplace Contribute To Sprains, Strains And Tears?
Any job requiring employees to sit or stand, or bend in off-kilter positions for long periods of time may cause excess strain and stress on certain muscles. Also, work that requires lifting, lowering, pulling or pushing contributes greatly to sprains, strains and tears.
Here’s a list of things that lead to muscle stress, musculoskeletal disorder symptoms and other sprains, strains and tears:
- Awkward postures
- Repetitive motions
- Forceful exertions
- Pressure points
It’s important to note that if muscles or ligaments have weakened over time from lack of exercise or age, strains, sprains and tears are more likely to happen than if an employee is physically fit.
What Are You Doing To Prevent Sprains, Strains And Tears In Your Workplace?
The best and simplest way to prevent sprains, strains and tears in your workplace is to develop a risk management plan that identifies, assesses, controls and evaluates safety hazards and risks.
Here are a list of preventative measures that result in fewer risks of sprains and strains:
- Analyze tasks to identify muscle groups and joints at greatest risk
- Write and use functional job descriptions for use in hiring/placement
- Have potential employees checked for functional capacity
- Take steps to eliminate or reduce risk exposures
- Train employees in preventative measures
- Give instruction in safe task execution
- Prepare workers’ muscles/joints through exercise and warm-ups
Another big factor in avoiding sprains, strains and tears is to implement ergonomics into your workplace by adjusting jobs to fit the body’s needs. Workers involved with jobs that overexert or require repetitive motions should be encouraged to take frequent short breaks to rest and stretch. It’s also helpful to vary workers tasks so they naturally vary their motions throughout the day.
Ready to learn more about preventing common workplace injuries? Call 800-523-5367 or click on the button below to speak with a safety specialist at Arbill.