1. Overexertion and Repetitive Stress Injuries

Although more subtle than a catastrophic explosion, according to the 2022 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, musculoskeletal disorders are the costliest workplace injuries costing more than $12.5 billion dollars.

The financial impact on the employer is one thing, but the long-term effects on workers are often severe and potentially debilitating.

Overexertion and bodily reaction represent about 22% of non-fatal injuries according to the National Safety Council averaging 14 days away from work.

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.

 2. Falls on the same level (Slips, Trips and Falls)

Working age adults account for more than two-thirds of the estimated 9.9 million annual fall-related injuries impacting U.S. adults according to Liberty Mutual’s latest research, highlighting the importance of companies actively protecting employees and the public from falls. The types of injuries incurred from slips, trips and falls include head and back injuries, broken bones, cuts and lacerations, sprains and pulled muscles.

In 2020, the National Safety Council recorded the following non-fatal injuries:

  • 25% soreness, pain
  • 24% sprains, strains and tears
  • 17% fractures
  • 16% bruises, contusions
  • 8% All other

The Bureau of Labor Statistics cited the industries impacted included service providers, healthcare, retail, transportation / warehousing and manufacturing.

The most common reasons for falls in the workplace are:

  • Slips: Wet or oily surfaces, occasional spills, weather hazards, loose rugs or mats and flooring that lacks the appropriate degree of traction.
  • Trips: Obstructed view, poor lighting, clutter, wrinkled carpeting, uncovered cables, uneven walking surfaces and bottom drawers not being closed.

There are three keys to preventing workplace accidents due to slips, trips and falls: good housekeeping, quality walking surfaces and proper footwear. Beyond that, employees should be reminded to take their time and pay attention to where they are going. They should also be encouraged to report areas where clutter, obstruction, spillage or damage have occurred.

3. Struck by Object or Equipment

Machinery that’s not properly guarded is a potentially grisly safety hazard. When body parts get caught in or struck by exposed moving parts or flying objects from machines without protective guards, the results are often disastrous. The long and horrifying list of machinery-related injuries includes crushed hands and arms, severed fingers, blindness and worse.

Most mechanical hazards occur in these three places:

  • The Point of Operation: Where work is performed on the material: cutting, shaping, boring or forming of stock.
  • Power Transmission Apparatus: Components of the mechanical system transmitting energy to the part of the machine performing the work: flywheels, pulleys, belts, connecting rods, couplings, cams, spindles, chains, cranks and gears.
  • Other Moving Parts: All parts of the machine that move while the machine is working: reciprocating, rotating and transverse moving parts, feed mechanisms and auxiliary parts of the machine.

The golden rule in preventing mechanical hazards is to remember that any machine part, function or process that may cause injury must be safeguarded. Also, existing hazards must be controlled or eliminated, and proper operator training and protective clothing must be provided.

4. Falls to a lower level

Falls to a lower level, often referred to as falls from heights, rank as a most common workplace accident that poses a significant risk to workers’ safety. These accidents occur when employees are working at elevated positions, such as rooftops, ladders, scaffolds, or elevated platforms, and accidentally slip, lose balance, or fall due to inadequate fall protection systems or lack of proper safety measures. The consequences of such incidents can be severe, ranging from fractures and sprains to more life-threatening injuries or even fatalities. Preventing falls to a lower level requires a comprehensive approach, including the implementation of proper fall protection equipment, regular inspections of elevated work areas, thorough training for workers on safety procedures, and clear communication about potential hazards. Employers must prioritize workplace safety, promoting a culture of vigilance and precaution to minimize the occurrence of falls from heights and safeguard their employees’ well-being.

In 2021, based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Safety Council reports that 680 workers died and in 2020, 49,250 workers were injured with fractures and sprains, strains and tears making up 50% of the events.

5. Other exertions and bodily reactions (awkward postures)

Other exertions and bodily reactions, particularly awkward postures, represent a common workplace accident that can lead to musculoskeletal disorders and injuries. When employees repeatedly perform tasks requiring uncomfortable positions or overexertion, such as lifting heavy objects, bending, twisting, or reaching, they put strain on their muscles, joints, and ligaments. Over time, this strain can result in chronic pain, strains, sprains, and even more serious conditions like herniated discs. To mitigate the risk of these types of accidents, employers should focus on ergonomics and work process design, ensuring that tasks are structured to minimize awkward postures and reduce the need for excessive physical strain.

The best way to protect your employees and help prevent accidents and injuries in your workplace is to take a holistic approach to workplace safety. This means ensuring your employees have the proper protective equipment and adequate training to perform their jobs, while also making sure your facility is compliant with federal and environmental regulations.

Arbill can provide the equipment and training you need while also offering safety and environmental site audits that provide a comprehensive review of your policies and procedures. Schedule a consultation with an Arbill Safety Expert today and take the first step to ensuring your employees embrace a culture of safety.