Every seven seconds, a worker is injured according to statistics released by the National Safety Council (NSC). And, in an even more staggering statistic, that translates into 104,00,000 production days lost to workplace injuries.

For businesses, this translates into a great deal of unnecessary pain and suffering for their employees and a massive financial loss. However, the majority of these injuries are preventable.

The good news is that there is a lot that you can do as an employer to ensure the health and safety of your employees and protect your bottom line.

Depending on your workplace, accidents can cause a wide variety of injuries. Some of the most common in 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS), included:

  • Sprains, strains, and tears
  • Soreness or pain
  • Cuts, lacerations, and punctures
  • Bruises and contusions
  • Fractures

Here is what you can do in your workplace to help prevent these injuries.

Sprains and Strains

Sprains and strains are by far the most common type of workplace injury. And, in the manufacturing industry, they result in the most severe and frequent worker's compensation claims.

A combination of factors cause sprains and strains to develop either suddenly, or over an extended period of time. These causes include both ergonomics and risk factors associated with individual workers.

To prevent sprains and strains in your workplace, here are a few things you can do.

Education and Training

Provide training and education on ergonomics, repetitive strain prevention and personal health and wellness. When appropriate, include training on proper lifting procedures and ladder use. Consider a training program that educates and then adds additional individualized follow-up with at-risk workers. Provide reminders via posters and emails. Promote healthy lifestyles in order to reduce individual risk factors.

Administrative Controls

Procedures that encourage frequent breaks and job rotation can help prevent sprains and strains caused by repetitive movements.

Process Controls

Consider replacing existing tools, machines, and workstations with newer versions that enable an adequate range of motion and available hydration. Install mechanical aids such as pneumatic lifts and conveyors to reduce the amount of manual work required.

Early Intervention

Educate employees and train supervisors to recognize the early warning signs of sprains and strains. This approach can significantly reduce the severity of these types of injuries.

Soreness and Pain

Soreness and pain are the second most common type of injury, according to the BLS. In fact, 62% of American workers reported daily neck pain, 44% reported stressed-out eyes and 12% complained of pain in their hands. Back pain is also a common complaint, with over half of American workers reporting back pain. Nationwide, it accounts for 264 million lost workdays every year.

Most of this pain can be traced to repetitive movement, improper lifting and sedentary work.

Prevention of soreness and pain involves many of the same approaches that can help your workers avoid sprains and strains.

Education and Training

Focus on proper lifting procedures but also on the known adverse health effects of a sedentary lifestyle and repetitive movements. Provide your workers with training that emphasizes ways to avoid these health hazards. Since it is easy to fall back into negative behaviors when you're busy or distracted, provide frequent reminders in the form of emails or strategically placed posters.

Cultural Changes

Create a workplace culture that encourages frequent rest breaks. A stunning 85% of employees remain at their desks during lunch, so provide them with a reason to move with a sponsored company lunch. Place commonly and communally used items such as photocopiers and printers on the perimeter of your office, so your employees have to move their bodies from the sedentary position in order to use them. Rather than sitting around a board room table, consider walking meetings. In manufacturing, ensure your workers have ergonomically correct workstations and tools. Install standing workstations and, again, insist on frequent breaks. Encourage additional movement with the installation of "play" spaces. Even a basketball net in a courtyard can help get your people moving.

Cuts, Lacerations, Bruises and Contusions

Cuts and lacerations account for 30% of workplace injuries, and the vast majority of these are injuries to hands and fingers. Experts suggest there are straightforward ways to avoid these injuries in the workplace.

Education and Training

Focus safety education and training on learning appropriate techniques and the importance of tool maintenance. Cutting tools, for example, must be sharpened regularly. It's also essential to include messaging about the use of proper tools for each job. Be sure you also provide these appropriate tools as well as guards and any other devices required to ensure safety. Train your people on how to use guards and other safety devices.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

The appropriate use of PPE can prevent most cuts, lacerations and bruises. Provide the PPE necessary for your employees to do their jobs safely and insist that PPE is always used. This might involve instituting penalties for workers who refuse or fail to use PPE.

Lighting

Installing good lighting will help your people see obstacles and identify imminent danger.

A Clean Workspace

Work areas should be clear of litter and debris. Ensure that spills are immediately cleaned up.

Fractures

Most fractures in the workplace are caused either by a fall or by a worker being struck by a moving vehicle or something falling. Planning, a tidy workspace and education are your best approaches to preventing these kinds of injuries.

Planning

Ensure your workplace is designed to avoid injury. Install guardrails and cover openings to prevent slips, trips and falls. Avoid stacking materials too high and prohibit the use of cranes to lift loads over an active workspace. Create designated walkways and employ traffic signallers to aid truck drivers and personnel. Finally, insist that ladders, scaffolding, vehicles and other equipment undergo frequent inspection and maintenance.

A Clean Workspace

Again, cleaning up spills and clearing debris can go a long way to avoiding accidents that results in fractures.

Education and Training

Teach your people about driver blind spots, appropriate use of PPE and other safety procedures.

A Safe Space For Everyone

Making the effort to reduce these common injuries can help keep your workers safe, and that’s a great outcome for any company.