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Safety and Health in the Workplace – Accident Prevention

Safety and health in the workplace is just as, if not more important, as staying safe at home. Employers are mandated under OSHA or other federal and state agencies to keep workplaces as safe as possible. Having an accident prevention plan is one way to monitor and prevent workplace injuries. In this article we will look at four of the most often occurring accidents and how to prevent them.

What types of accidents are happening?

1. Slips, Trips, Falls

This category is by far the most commonly occurring accident when it comes to safety and health in the workplace. Employers should make preventing slips, trips and falls a priority because it is the most occurring and can be a very costly type of accident. There are hundreds of ways to prevent slips, trips and falls, so it is impossible to cover every scenario in a short article such as this. Keeping walking and working surfaces clean, dry and uncluttered is a definite start. In addition, awareness training should be taught. Employees should not be under pressure to work too fast that they make careless mistakes when it comes to safety. Lastly, make sure that every engineering and work practice control has been put into place. For example, OSHA requires hand rails on stairs with four or more risers and guard rails and or protective barriers on certain elevated surfaces to prevent falls.

2. Lift, Move, Carry

This category is self explanatory. People tend to injure their back or other body parts like wrists, neck, or ankles when they lift, move or carry objects incorrectly. Safety and health in the workplace discourages people asking more of their body than reasonably acceptable. In most general industry, as well as construction work environments, proper lifting techniques should be taught. This training should include how to move and carry loads either by hand or by using a mechanical method.

3. Push, Pull

The push, pull category seems similar to lift, move, carry, but it is not. I like to keep it separate so that when I am reviewing accident reports, it becomes obvious hat the accident occurred due to incorrect work habits. There should be no reason for a person to put strain on their body by pushing or pulling when there are mechanical methods to do almost every task. A good employer will stress the importance of safety and health in the workplace and always discourage pushing or pulling on an object if it means putting excessive strain on the body.

4. Repetitive Motion Injury

Repetitive motion injury occurs when pressure is exerted on a person’s nerves or muscles in a way where the motion is repeated over and over. Most people have heard the term ergonomics. This is a very important concept when it comes to preventing repetitive motion injuries. Basically ergonomics is the study of how the work environment affects the body. For example, a person develops carpal tunnel syndrome in the wrists. What has happened is that the same motion has been repeated so often with the wrists that the median nerve in the wrist is damaged. The ergonomics of the work situation was not correct. A correct ergonomic approach would be such that the wrist would be kept in a more natural or comfortable position while still getting the work done.

These are just four of the main accident prevention categories. Safety and health in the workplace does not just happen. Employers have to train, teach and educate to make it happen.

Workplace Safety and Health – What Are the Costs?

Workplace safety & health should not be directed by cost, but unfortunately sometimes it is. Workplace accidents injuries or diseases sometimes have very serious direct cost associated. Sometimes the costs are not so direct. Indirect cost of not keeping a safe workplace can be the mountain beneath the iceberg tip. Here are some of these “costs” of workplace accidents, injuries or diseases for you to consider in your workplace.

Direct Cost

  1. For the injured person, there is almost always pain and suffering endured.
  2. Depending on the company, sick time, compensation time, etc, the worker may experience a loss of income.
  3. If the injury or illness is serious enough, there is a real possibility that the worker may lose their job.
  4. Doctor and hospital or medical bills are sure to be of major concern to both the worker and employee.

Indirect Cost

  1. Suffering endured by the workers family.
  2. The employer will likely pay for missed work days. Work is not performed but yet the employer has paid for it.
  3. Compensation payments and medical expenses.
  4. Lower moral or negative attitudes by other workers.
  5. Loss in productivity.
  6. Machinery repair or replacement costs.
  7. Retraining or replacing workers.

These are just a few of the cost so you have an idea of what has been lost due to workplace accidents. It is nearly impossible to determine actual cost of an accident, injury or work related disease. Most of the time the initial cost pales in comparison to the indirect costs. Some estimates have placed the indirect costs as ten times greater than the initial. Although you can’t put a cost on safety, know that the initial cost of not employing safety could just be the tip of the iceberg.