This post was written by Josh Hancey, Safety Director and member of the Risk Management team at Helpside.
Knowledge is power, and understanding your company’s risk is essential in protecting your business. Like with many things in life, awareness is often half the battle. Knowing and understanding the most common types of injuries can help businesses better prepare and take the necessary measures to prevent injuries from occurring.
Two of the most common workplace injury types are musculoskeletal disorders and slip, trips, and falls. Combined, these two injury types account for approximately 50% of all work-related injuries.
By the Numbers: Musculoskeletal Disorders
When examining Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) account for 33.2% of workplace injuries (combining overexertion, repetitive motion and other exertions). Similarly, Helpside client data shows musculoskeletal disorders injuries accounting for 31.4% of all work-related injuries for our clients.
MSD injuries are related to lifting, pushing, pulling, reaching, carrying, twisting, and repetitive motions. It is estimated that these types of injuries cost companies around $400 million dollars each year or close to $850 billion dollars when factoring in lost wages, loss of productivity, etc.
Preventing Musculoskeletal Disorders
Preventing MSD is certainly challenging, but not impossible. Consider the following:
- Match the job to the worker, not the worker to the job.
- Eliminate awkward postures/positioning.
- Invest in adjustable height tables and work stations.
- Use powered equipment to avoid excessive force and repetitive motions including devices that lift and reposition heavy objects for workers.
- Train your employees to lift properly, use of the proper equipment, understand the potential risks of their specific job, etc.
- Require that heavy loads be lifted by two or more employees.
- Provide job rotation and adequate breaks and rest periods for workers.
- Implement mandatory warm-ups and stretching programs.
- Report MSD-related injuries immediately. This helps identify potential flaws in the process so that the risk factors may be removed. Moreover, employees that report MSD injuries early on have a higher and quicker recovery rate. Often times on-time reporting can avoid costly surgeries if treatment is received early.
By the Numbers: Slip, Trips and Falls
The second most common injury type is slip, trips, and falls. Liberty Mutual’s Workplace Safety Index and Helpside reports these injuries account for 33.1% (combining falls on the same level, falls to a different level and slips without a fall), and 16.3% respectively.
- 65% of fall-related injuries occur as a result of falls from same-level walking surfaces;
- The services, wholesale, and retail trade industries together accounted for over 60% of injuries that resulted from same level falls;
- The manufacturing sector alone accounted for 16 percent of injuries that resulted from same-level falls;
- Over one million Americans suffer a slip, trip, and fall injury every year;
- An estimated 20 – 30% of people who experience a slip and fall will suffer moderate to severe injuries such as bruises, hip fractures, or head injuries;
- The most common fractures that occur from slip and fall accidents are fractures are of the spine, hip, forearm, leg, ankle, pelvis, upper arm, and hand;
- Slip and fall accidents are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and these account for 46% of fatal falls among older Americans;
- 1 in 6 of all lost-time work injuries result from slips, trips and falls;
- It is estimated that these injuries result in an average of 11 days away from work;
- Approximately 19,565 people die in the U.S. annually due to injuries caused by unintentional falls;
- According to OSHA, slips, trips and falls cause 15% of all accidental deaths;
- Slips, trip, and fall injuries account for between 12 and 15 percent of all Workers’ Compensation expenses;
- Slips, trip, and fall injuries cost employers approximately $40,000 per incident;
Preventing Slips, Trips, and Falls
To help prevent slip, trips and falls in your workplace, consider the following:
- Clean-up spills immediately. If they cannot be cleaned up immediately, place signs up to warn others of the slippery surface.
- Keep hallways and walkway clean and clutter-free.
- Keep drawers closed when not in use
- During winter months, ensure that walkways are plowed, and that ice melt is continuously applied.
- Require employees to wear shoes with adequate traction. For office environments, consider changing into high heels/dress shoes once you arrive at the office.
- Encourage employee reporting of unsafe conditions and perform periodic safety observations that focus on potential slip and fall hazards.
Putting systems into place to prevent these common injuries will make your workplace safer. For additional information and help preventing workplace injuries, please contact Helpside Safety Director Josh Hancey at firstname.lastname@example.org.