4 common workplace injuries and how to prevent them
Any business is prone to workplace accidents because mistakes are human. Luckily, accidents have decreased in the past decade as technology solutions were included in physical-demanding industries. Still, accidents happen, and businesses can make improvements regarding workers’ safety, from toughening workplace regulations to better workplace culture. Regardless, let’s see what the most common workplace injuries are and how you can prevent them as a business.
Falls, slips and trips
These types of injuries are the most common, and even though they’re underrated, a simple slip can cause bone fractures and other health problems. They’re usually caused by uneven surfaces, hazardous objects left in walkways and icy sidewalks. A wet floor can also cause workers to slip and get injured, so they should not be allowed to access such surfaces or use proper equipment that ensures them a safe walk. Trips can happen due to poor lighting, wrinkled carpeting, mats, or uncovered cables.
Non-fatal injuries are caused mainly by slips, trips and falls on the same level, causing, on average, a third of all major injuries. A practical solution to avoid such injuries would be to implement a cleaning system that minimizes the chances of slips, trips and falls:
- Workers should clean spills immediately upon discovery to ensure a safe worksite;
- Workers should use “wet floor” signs whenever necessary so that other employees can be cautious;
- Employers should encourage workers to use nonstick soles on shoes;
- Employers should have procedures in place for both routine and responsive cleaning;
Struck by heavy equipment
In construction and other physically demanding jobs, being struck by heavy equipment and moving objects are the leading causes of fatal injuries worldwide. Unfortunately, most of all fatal injuries are in the agriculture, forestry and fishing industries, with the transportation and storage sector following.
Although these types of accidents can occur due to workers’ oversight, most of the time, the machinery they’re provided with is not safeguarded, and employees are not properly trained on how to use them. However, leading a business in such dangerous sectors may be challenging, which is why businesses need EHS software (short for Environmental Health and Safety). This application allows you, as a business owner, to have a centralized system to keep your company’s safety program organized. It gives you real-time data on safety, regulations and compliance, and your workers can upload their information from the app so the software can automate your workflow.
The EHS meaning is to address potential hazards in your workplace so that you can find the best solutions for preventing accidents and injuries from occurring. This software provides the following functions:
- Identifies potential hazards;
- Evaluates risks;
- Develops safety protocols;
- Helps in training employees;
Monitors compliance with safety regulations;
Employees are exposed to more than physical accidents. Workplace stress can also lead to health problems, and through such software, management can help manage stress by promoting wellness programs and creating a healthy work-life balance.
Exposure to harmful substances
Industries are using certain substances (pesticides in agriculture or solvent-based chemicals in forestry) that can affect workers’ health if they’re not stored properly, and equipment is not provided. Dust, gases or fumes can cause allergic reactions, while liquids, gels or powders that come in contact with eyes or skin can trigger infections.
As an employer, there are some things you need to consider if the business requires it:
- Identify which substances from the workplace are harmful;
- Determine how workers are exposed to them;
- Decide what measures you need to implement to prevent accidents;
- Provide information, instruction and training to your employees;
- Provide health surveillance;
There are some simple checks to control dust and mist, for example. As they are invisible in normal lighting, you can make them visible with a “dust lamp”, with which you can note where the contamination has spread. Then, you might want to check the airflow indicator for any damage and leakage that could cause dust and mist to form. Frequent ventilation is also important to minimize the substances to remain in the air and affect workers.
To prevent skin damage, you and your employees mustn’t have direct contact between unprotected hands and substances, and workers must wash any contamination from their skin properly. The skin should also be checked regularly for signs of itchiness, and dry or red skin, so they can be treated early.
Fire and explosions
Although the previous hazardous substances can affect workers’ health long-term, fire and explosions can become fatal if combustible materials are not taken care of properly. Faulty gas lines and open flames can become dangerous and cause damage to the respiratory system and even burn, leading to disfigurement.
There are four types of fire-related injuries:
- Primary blast injuries that affect ears and lungs due to the pressure on body tissues;
- Secondary blast that occurs when flying objects strike nearby workers;
- Tertiary blast that can lift workers off the ground from a high-energy explosion;
- Quaternary blast that causes crush injuries, burns and inhalation of toxic substances;
As an employer, you should carry out a fire safety risk assessment and identify any fire safety hazards, like:
- Sources of ignition in poor condition: heaters, electrical equipment;
- Sources of fuel: wood, paper, plastic, waste rubbish;
Sources of oxygen
Sources of ignition and flammable materials should be kept apart from fuel, as they can cause fire easily if they have enough oxygen around. Fire exits and marked escape routes should also be assessed, while workers need to know the procedures they need to follow in case of a fire. The escaping routes should be protected by permanent fire installation and fire doors. Besides these measures, the easiest thing to do is to maintain proper housekeeping at the workplace and avoid clutter, dust and grease that might start a fire.
Even though working has become safer compared to a decade ago, workers are still affected by negligence and poor training and equipment. Fortunately, there are solutions to these problems, from constantly checking the working environment to having software programs to control the site and workers’ health.