How to Avoid Workplace Injuries

How to Avoid Workplace Injuries
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In the course of an average workday, many of us perform tasks in a variety of fields that could potentially put our health and welfare at risk. While our jobs may seem harmless, the fact is that workplace injuries can and do happen anywhere. On-the-job injuries result in pain and suffering, as well as heavy financial losses for millions of people. Knowing the first steps to take after a workplace injury is something every employee should be aware of. Unfortunately, most workers are unaware not only of the risks inherent in their job, but also of their rights to compensation for any work-related injuries they suffer.

Avoiding Common Workplace Injuries

The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that approximately three million on-the-job injuries occur each year. While not all of these injuries were considered serious, over one-third of them were severe enough to require time off work in order to recover. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, through its Research Institute for Safety, works with the BLS to compile a yearly Workplace Safety Index, outlining the most common types of work-related injuries that occurred over the course of the year. The following list includes the most common workplace injuries, as well as the underlying causes and what you can do to prevent them.

  • Overexertion: Often resulting in sprains and strains to the lower back, overexertion is the most common type of workplace injury and is caused by using excessive physical effort when pulling, lifting, carrying, and pushing items. Ways to prevent overexerting yourself include using proper lifting techniques, enlisting the aid of other employees, and stopping if you feel sore or experience lower abdominal pain.

  • Falls from heights: Another extremely common type of workplace accident, falls from heights are often caused by inadequate scaffolding or improperly maintained ladders, as well as from inadequate railing or lighting in stairwells. These types of falls can result in spinal cord injuries, head trauma, and multiple fractures. Prevent falls by making sure equipment is properly maintained, using safety harnesses, and making sure stairwells have the appropriate lighting and handrails.
  • Slip, trip and falls injuries: These falls occur at same height, yet can still cause serious damage. Slip and fall injuries are often due to wet or slippery floors and obstacles in walkways, and may result in sprains, torn ligaments and fractures. Prevent these by making sure pathways are clear of debris, and use 'Watch Your Step" signs.
  • Being struck by objects or equipment: This includes injuries due to falling or swinging objects, such as items falling off shelving or falling from scaffolding above. Injuries may include bruises, cuts, and lacerations, as well as head trauma and brain injuries. Prevent this type of accident by making sure items are secured properly, and wear a hard hat when in construction areas.
  • Roadway accidents: These may involve a car accident in a company vehicle, or being hit by a car or truck as a pedestrian. Injuries often include broken bones, cuts, spinal cord injuries, and head and brain trauma. Prevent these accidents by always wearing a seatbelt when driving, not driving a truck without the proper training, and by paying attention when walking on roadways or areas with vehicles.
  • Caught in or compressed by object: These accidents typically occur where heavy machinery is being operated, or where goods are being loaded or unloaded. These accidents may result in internal injuries, multiple fractures, and spinal cord injuries. Use extra safety when operating machinery, and make sure you are visible to forklift and machine operators.
  • Repetitive motions: People who perform the same task repeatedly, such as stuffing envelopes, data processing, and answering phones may suffer injuries such as sprained or torn ligaments, migraines, and carpal tunnel syndrome. Avoid these types of injuries by using the proper ergonomics at your desk or work station, and take frequent breaks.
  • What To Do If You Are Injured at Work

    Workers who have been injured on the job may qualify for workers' compensation benefits through the Department of Labor and Training. While filing a claim for workers' compensation is up to your employer, it is your responsibility to report any workplace related accident or injury immediately to your supervisor. Make sure to seek medical attention immediately, and follow any instructions your doctor gives you in terms of treatment or follow up care. Keep a record of how and when the injury happened, and get the contact information for any witnesses of the accident. While you may be contacted by the insurance company for your employer, it is important to remember not to make any statements without talking to a Providence workplace injury attorney first. Anything you say can and will be used to either deny your claim, or to undervalue the amounts of benefits you are given. In cases where you were injured as the result of someone's reckless or negligent conduct, you may want to file a personal injury claim. Depending on the circumstance, you may be able to hold a third party accountable for damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

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