According to a 2011 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the most common workplace injuries resulting in the most missed days -- by a long shot -- are sprains, strains and tears. These nonfatal musculoskeletal work-related injuries account for 38% of all injuries in the workplace.
The most common source of sprains, strains and tears is overexertion and repetitive stress injuries (RSI). The most common of all sprains, strains and tears -- due to lifting and lowering -- are back injuries (36% of all injuries).
Although sprains, strains and tears don’t receive the same kind of attention that fatal accidents do, sprains, strains and tears are the most costly of the common workplace injuries. Complaints of back pain alone cost employers an estimated $7.4 billion annually and lead to 100 million lost workdays annually.
The financial impact on the employer is outrageous, but the long-term effects on workers are often very severe and potentially debilitating.
The part we must stress the most is that sprains, strains and tears are 100% preventable!
What Factors In The Workplace Contribute To Sprains, Strains And Tears?
Any job requiring employees to sit or stand, or bend in off-kilter positions for long periods of time may cause excess strain and stress on certain muscles. Also, work that requires lifting, lowering, pulling or pushing contributes greatly to sprains, strains and tears.
Here’s a list of things that lead to muscle stress, musculoskeletal disorder symptoms and other sprains, strains and tears:
- Awkward postures
- Repetitive motions
- Forceful exertions
- Pressure points
It’s important to note that if muscles or ligaments have weakened over time from lack of exercise or age, strains, sprains and tears are more likely to happen than if an employee is physically fit.
What Are You Doing To Prevent Sprains, Strains And Tears In Your Workplace?
The best and simplest way to prevent sprains, strains and tears in your workplace is to develop a risk management plan that identifies, assesses, controls and evaluates safety hazards and risks.
Here are a list of preventative measures that result in fewer risks of sprains and strains:
- Analyze tasks to identify muscle groups and joints at greatest risk
- Write and use functional job descriptions for use in hiring/placement
- Have potential employees checked for functional capacity
- Take steps to eliminate or reduce risk exposures
- Train employees in preventative measures
- Give instruction in safe task execution
- Prepare workers’ muscles/joints through exercise and warm-ups
Another big factor in avoiding sprains, strains and tears is to implement ergonomics into your workplace by adjusting jobs to fit the body’s needs. Workers involved with jobs that overexert or require repetitive motions should be encouraged to take frequent short breaks to rest and stretch. It’s also helpful to vary workers tasks so they naturally vary their motions throughout the day.
Ready to learn more about preventing common workplace injuries? Call 800-523-5367 or click on the button below to speak with a safety specialist at Arbill.
Welcome to this week's final installment of the Arbill blog series Reconsidered Safety Posts. Over this past week, we've looked back at a series of posts on categories of common workplace accidents: Slips, Trips And Falls and Hands And Gloves.
For the third installment in this series, we are setting our sights on eye injuries incurred in the workplace. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, each day about 2,000 US workers have a job-related eye injury that requires medical treatment. On top of that, eye injuries cost more than $300 million per year in lost production time, medical expenses and workers' compensation.
The amazing thing is ... 90% of all eye injuries that happen in the workplace are preventable.
Reconsider: Eye Injuries In The Workplace And How To Avoid Them
This post offers up tips for avoiding eye injuries in the workplace. From indentifying workplace hazards to appropriate eye protection, this guide delivers effective methods for protecting workers on the job through preventative measures.
Reconsider: Eye Injuries -- Selecting Proper Eyewear
There's more to finding the appropriate eye protection for reducing the risk of eye injuries in the workplace than you might imagine. This blog post details out how to assess your workplace to indentify existing hazards that necessitate the use of eye protection. Based on that accessment, there is a wide range of protective eyewear suited for various hazards.
Reconsider: Protect Your Eyes With Eye Protection -- There's No Reason Not To!
This blog post on eye protection drills down on the types of eye protection that exist while also highlighting the importance of ensuring that your workers know exactly what protection is expected for their specific job and where they can find available protective eyewear and how to care for them.
Thanks again for taking this look back with us to revisit commonly themed Arbill blog posts about some of the most common workplace accidents. We hope you've found them to be a great reminder that, although these accidents happen with far too much frequency, almost every single incident is entirely preventable through workplace safety efforts.
Ready to learn more about preventing eye injuries through workplace safety efforts? Call 800-523-5367 to speak with an Arbill Safety Specialist or click on the button below.
Welcome back to this week's Arbill blog series Reconsidered Safety Posts, where we're looking back at past informative blog posts with common workplace safety themes.
Our first installment, Slips, Trips and Falls revisted two articles that explored both safety prevention efforts and videos showing the stark realities for slips, trips and falls.
For today's allotment, we're reexamining two past blog posts that deal with reducing the risk of injury to hands through glove education. Our hands are the most-often injured and chemical-exposed parts of our bodies. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more than 100,000 lost-time hand injuries each year.
Reconsider: Workplace Safety Gloves -- New Trends
This post explains everything you need to know about appropriate hand protection where there is exposure to hazards. Read about the different types of glove designs that exist, selecting the right gloves for a particular job and how to care for your protective gloves.
Reconsider: Workplace Safety -- Avoiding Hand Injuries
This post provides a running list of workplace safety tips for hand protection. By adhering to the safety suggestions found in this guide you are better equipped for avoiding a whole host of very serious hand injuries.
We hope you found it helpful to take a trip back to these past blog posts about gloves and hand injuries. By using protective gloves properly and taking the appropriate precautions, these efforts either significantly reduce or completely eliminate hand injuries in the workplace.
Ready to learn more about preventing hand injuries in the workplace? Call 800-523-5367 to speak with an Arbill Safety Specialist or click on the button below.
Welcome back to this week's Arbill blog series Reconsidered Safety Posts. We're retracing our steps back to once again shine light on past informative blog posts featuring common workplace safety themes.
For the first installment in this series, we're taking another look at workplace safety tips and suggestions to prevent slips, trips and falls from occuring in the workplace. Slips, trips and falls account for 1/3rd of all personal workplace injuries and are a top cause of workers' compensation claims.
Reconsider: Workplace Safety Trends In Construction: Preventing Falls
This blog post is about preventing falls, the number one cause of fatalities in construction. It highlights and links to 12 videos that OSHA released to show how quickly workers are injured or killed on the job. Although the footage is sometimes stark, they are great visual tools to help in prevention efforts for construction-related workplace hazards.
Reconsider: Slips, Trips And Falls -- Workplace Safety Statistics
This blog post features a running list of staggering statistics concerning slips, trips and falls. It really relates the frequency for which slips, trips and fall accidents occur, how many different ways they occur and how detrimental they are to workers and workers' compensation expenses.
We hope this trip back to past fall prevention Arbill blog posts serves as a reminder to make sure your workplace is taking the appropriate measures to avoid these costly accidents from occuring and reduce the risk for injury.
Check back on Wednesday for another Reconsidered Safety Posts topic to explore: Safety Gloves And Avoiding Hand Injuries.
Ready to learn more about preventing slip, trip and fall injuries in the workplace? Call 800-523-5367 or click on the button below to speak with an Arbill safety specialist.
It can be easy to cut corners to keep up with a hectic production schedule, especially if you’ve done so before with no repercussions. However, it only takes one unsafe misstep to result in something with significant ramifications; including, loss of life.
While most workplaces have put better training, policies, and equipment in place to assist with the conversation of safety, it’s important that to make sure these safety measures continue and not stall. Ultimately, by reiterating the importance of safety, you’ll be creating a better overall workplace.
You may be wondering how, as a leader, you can reinforce safety, without making it feel like it’s something that should be swept under the rug. By having crucial conversations, you’ll be able to save time but still keep safety a priority.
Take into consideration these five practices that will help resolve safety issues.
- Blow the whistle. Many issues are so common, sometimes they are completely unseen by safety leaders. Reiterate basic safety measures and share safety data. By bringing up the conversation with your employees and getting the discussion started, you may be able to blow the whistle on a potential unsafe method of doing something.
- Commit to surveys. If you’re serious about establishing accountability, survey your associates. Whether it’s done online anonymously or a meeting is held and a simple raise of the hand is requested, this will bring up crucial safety issues and how to work on resolving them. By showing your workers you are committed to safety, you’ll notice a greater commitment on their behalf as well.
- Make training available. Many employees lack the confidence needed to convey issues to their superiors because they aren’t sure if they are correct with their notions of safety. This can be resolved by offering proper, and continuing training to associates, so they know when to raise flags.
- Reinforce accountability. In addition to making sure employees receive additional training, it’s import that their superiors are held responsible for their success. This way, an overall culture of safety is created.
- Praise success. Highlight those who have succeeded in making safety a success – this is important because it shows that you genuinely appreciate their commitment.
By keeping these tips and practices in mind, you’ll be able to work towards a safer environment, while keeping safety a priority.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to keep safety a priority in the workplace, subscribe to the Arbill Blog In the meantime, be sure to check out our website for more information on workplace safety guidelines, solutions and programs or contact us to learn more about Arbill.
When it comes to safety, most major companies are extremely conscious about creating the safest working environment possible. In order to achieve this work environment, most managers strive to be extremely thoughtful when it comes to both rule and policy reinforcement; this way, they’ll be able to protect the health and safety of all employees.
Regardless of what industry a company may categorize itself in - most, if not all, hold the notion that safety needs to come before productivity and quality. After all, without a safe workplace, all goals: manufacturing, quality, and even capital gain, are not met.
As a business owner, you should be concerned if you believe that your working environment isn’t the best it can be. However, there are many procedures you can put into place to reduce risk and hazards within your workplace; all of these are easy to implement.
Companies will notice, when they protect their employees as well as treat them fairly, other benefits will result – like improved morale, greater efficiency, higher levels of productivity, expanded trust, and fewer workers’ compensation claims.
Make sure your company’s safety system is the best it can be:
1. Carry out a comprehensive hazard/risk assessment
By assessing the hazards and risks associated with your company’s products, services, or operations, you’ll be able to make recommendations to resolve any potential problem areas.
2. Create a culture of safety in your workplace
Let workers know their rights, as well as responsibilities – this includes refusals to work and proper reporting of accidents and injuries. Additionally, provide your staff with brochures on safety and make sure that specific hazards are clearly marked.As a best practice, make sure a basic first aid kit is within reach.
3. React and correct any gaps in your safety system
If you notice there can be room for improvement – commit to fixing the problem. This way, you’ll improve system stability.
Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for extra help. Sometimes it’s best to get help from an outside organization for a more wide-ranging risk assessment. Consultants that specialize in safety may see areas of opportunity that may have been previously overlooked.
For information on how to make your workplace safer, subscribe to the Arbill Blog In the meantime, be sure to check out our website for more information on workplace safety guidelines, solutions and programs or contact us to learn more about Arbill.
Eye protection – some may feel safety glasses or goggles are a hassle to wear and not really necessary. That notion is absolutely incorrect – in fact, eye protection is extremely crucial to your overall protection in the workplace. According to OSHA, there are an estimated 1,000 eye injuries in the workplace occurring daily.
So, what causes all of these daily eye injuries? The answers are alarming.
- Three out of every five workers’ injuries could have been prevented, as they lacked eye any type of eye protection at the time of the accident.
- Wearing incorrect eye protection for the job being performed. These workers were most likely to be wearing eyeglasses that lacked side shields.
Between lost production time, workers compensation, and medical expenses – there’s more than $300 million per year lost; there’s no reason for this. Regardless of the dollar amount spent to rectify an eye injury, ultimately, no amount can reflect the personal burden an eye injury can put on an injured worker.
With over 90% of eye injuries being preventable if the proper eye protection is used, it is crucial to realize how much of an imperative component eye protection, is when it comes to personal protective equipment.
This being said, it is necessary for your workers’ eyes are protected with recommended Personal Protective Equipment such as:
- Safety glasses
- Face shields
- Welding helmets
- Hybrids that serve as a combination
By wearing adequate eye protection, your chance of injury will be significantly decreased. It’s important to remember, that eye protection should be combined with other personal protective equipment so that one is completely protected – from head-to-toe.
While there are multiple types of eye protection available, it’s key to make sure you are wearing the proper protection for the work. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommends communicating to your workers the following:
- When safety eye protection is required to wear
- How and where is the available protective eyewear
- How a worker is able to get a replacement of the protective eyewear if broken
- Where eye protection is located at every station
It’s also important to stress to workers that they must take care of their protective eyewear in order to for them to receive the upmost protection. By wearing the eyewear throughout the day, as opposed to laying them down, the chances of scratches significantly lessens. When not in use, eyewear should be stored in a glasses container. Scratched eyewear can reduce your vision and subsequently, may be a contributor to accidents.
Ultimately, the majority of eye injuries are preventable with the use of proper protective eyewear. An injury obtained from lack of eyewear can potentially cause a lifetime of damage – make sure you and your workers make the right decision and protect your eyes!
For information on eye protection in the workplace, subscribe to the Arbill Blog In the meantime, be sure to check out our website for more information on workplace safety guidelines, solutions and programs or contact us to learn more about Arbill.
Welcome back to this week’s Arbill Blog Series, “What’s Wrong With These Pictures?” Part 1 in this series highlighted back injury risks and the benefits of ergonomics, while Part 2 summarized proper lifting techniques along with how to minimize the effects of manual material handing. We hope you found these posts useful for your own workplace safety efforts!
As for the photos above, if you guessed “unsupportive shoes” and “couch potato” you are correct!
For our final installment in this series of back injury prevention posts, we’d like to discuss “the 2-Minute Warning,” proper footwear and matting and the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
The 2-Minute Warning (Not A Football Reference)
Drivers or passengers of trucks and other industrial vehicles who drive around for periods longer than 20 minutes are at a greater risk for back injury. The constant vibration from the moving vehicle decreases blood flow to the spine. Afterwards, the spine is in a temporarily weakened state. That’s where the 2-Minute Warning comes in.
It takes at least two minutes (five would be preferable) after exposure to prolonged vibration to get the blood flowing back to the spine again. After driving for 20 minutes or more, it’s suggested that you take a short, brisk walk and always use extra caution when lifting.
Proper Footwear Versus Anti-Fatigue Matting
Buyers beware: Because back injuries are so common, there are plenty of products out there promising to prevent or alleviate back pain. However, there is no evidence to support that special shoes or shoe inserts help. Of course, certain footwear is necessary to protect your feet from injury (think steel toe boot) but, for back pain, it really depends on what gives you the most comfort and support (ie. not street sneakers).
On the other hand, anti-fatigue matting has been proven to help decrease back injuries, especially for standing workstations and high-traffic areas. Overly soft mats tend to increase fatigue and loss of balance as well as slips, trips and falls, so be sure to go for quality when purchasing anti-fatigue mats.
A Healthy Lifestyle Helps!
There’s no getting around this one: In order to prevent back injuries, you must keep your back healthy and strong. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle for preventing back injury comes down to three factors:
- Exercising -- Low-impact aerobic activities are best, as they’re easy on your back and increase both strength and endurance.
- Building Strength And Flexibility -- Exercising back and abdomen muscles strengthens the core and conditions these muscles to work together. Flexibility in the hips and upper legs aligns pelvic bones.
- Maintaining A Healthy Weight -- Being overweight puts strain on your back muscles. Naturally, slimming down helps prevent back pain and potential injury.
One final word: preventing back injuries starts with the brain rather than the muscles. Be smart about how you stand, sit and lift and you’ll be a step ahead in reducing the amount of stress placed on your back.
Ready to learn more about preventing back injuries in the workplace? Call 800-523-5367 or click on the button below to speak with an Arbill safety specialist.
Welcome back to this week’s Arbill Blog Series, “What’s Wrong With These Pictures?” We hope you found our first installment on back injury risks and the benefits of ergonomics helpful.
To kick this post off, we’d like to extract a fact from Monday’s post, as it drives the focus of Part 2 in this series:
“Three out of four reported back injuries occur while an employee is lifting.”
The most common area where back injuries occur is with manual material handling (MMH) jobs. MMH is the moving of objects unaided by mechanical devices. Let’s take a look at ways to reduce the risk of back injuries and musculoskeletal disorders for this kind of work.
The First Rule: Practice Proper Lifting Techniques
It’s fairly simple: improper bending and lifting causes back injury.
The actual weight of what you’re lifting doesn’t have to be all that heavy to provoke a back injury. In fact, picking up a 20 pound box by bending at the waist with your arms outstretched in front of you puts up to 400 pounds of compressive force on the fulcrum of your lower back.
Now, multiply that 20 pound box by three times or more and imagine what kind of pressure you’re putting on your back!
Here are some lifting techniques that are helpful in preventing back injuries:
- Take a wider stance.
- Bend at your knees, not at your waist and keep your back straight.
- Keep the object close to you.
- Hold an item in the space between your armpits and your knees.
- Point your feet at the item your lifting.
- Change direction with your feet, not your waist.
It should be mentioned that you should never lift a heavy object above shoulder level, and ideally you should only move objects that are only 20% of your body weight or less.
Minimizing The Effects Of Manual Material Handling
Any worker who manually handles materials is at risk for a back injury -- particularly the lower back. MMH typically involves awkward postures and repeated forceful movements. By using workplace safety practices, it’s possible to significantly reduce the risk for back injury from MMH. Here’s how:
- Eliminate Heavy MMH: It might not be realistic to eliminate MMH tasks altogether, so consider using mechanical handling systems such as lift tables, conveyors, yokes, trucks, gravity dumps and chutes.
- Decrease MMH Demands: Decrease the acceptable weight of handled objects or assign two people to split lifting the load. Lower objects instead of lifting them. Reduce the distance for carrying, pushing or pulling, and alternate heavy tasks with lighter ones.
- Reduce Stressful Body Movements: Bending and twisting are particularly dangerous for your back and cause injury even if you’re not handling materials. Reduce these kinds of movements by providing all materials at a work level that is adjusted to the body size and have enough space for the entire body to maneuver with ease.
Tension in the body makes it more susceptible to injury. Employees, especially those doing MMH work, should warm up before starting work. Proper stretching and limbering results in mental readiness -- that’s an important chain of events for all MMH jobs.
It’s also important to note that pre-placement screening helps with preventing back injuries, by selecting workers who are less likely to be injured. The best pre-selection method is to have the worker perform the actual task and take it from there.
Want to learn more about how to prevent workplace injuries? Call 800-523-5367 or click on the button below to speak with an Arbill safety specialist.
Welcome to this week’s Arbill Blog Series, “What’s Wrong With These Pictures?”
In response to the two photos above, you may have guessed “spine twisting” or “bad posture,” both of which are correct answers and unacceptable in terms of workplace safety!
One of the biggest workplace safety challenges for any business is the prevention of back injuries. Throughout this week, to put some added emphasis on this major work injury obstacle, we’ll be presenting you with photos of bad workplace safety practices that have a high risk for back injury.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than one million workers suffer back injuries each year. Back injuries also account for one of every five workplace injuries and illnesses. On top of the pain and suffering endured by employees, one-fourth of all compensation indemnity claims involve back injuries that end up costing billions of dollars.
Manual handling -- lifting, placing, carrying, holding and lowering -- accounts for many back injuries and other musculoskeletal disorders and are the principal cause of compensable work injuries. The BLS survey shows that four out of five of these injuries are to the lower back and three out of the four occurred while the employee was lifting.
However, sitting for long periods of time with poor posture and desk setup are also responsible for many back injuries. Most people associate back injuries with manual labor but, as it turns out, sitting for long periods of time isn’t all that great for us.
Ergonomics: Keeping The Spine In Line
The truth about back injuries is that up to one-third of them could have been prevented through better job design alone.
Enter ergonomics, the science of fitting workplace conditions and job demands to the capabilities of the working population. These effective “fits” result in higher productivity, injury risk avoidance and an increase in employee satisfaction.
Here are the most common ergonomic risk factors:
- Repetitive, forceful or prolonged exertions of the hands
- Frequent or heavy lifting
- Pushing, pulling or carrying of heavy objects
- Prolonged awkward positions
The level of risk depends on the intensity, frequency and duration of the exposure to certain conditions.
Here are some ways to reduce your risk factors:
- Setting up your desk to improve the effects of prolonged sitting and keying
- Adjusting the height of a pallet or shelf so that lifting occurs in the area between the shoulder and knee
- Removing obstructions that prevent an employee’s body from being able to easily contact the object being lifted also helps alleviate the risk of back injury
- Installing mechanical aids like pneumatic lifts, conveyors and automated handling equipment
Ergonomics is certainly one of the best ways to improve the potential for hazards in the workplace. But, there’s no one approach for totally eliminating back injuries.
Check back next time, when we’ll explore some of the other ways to avoid back injury, such as manual material handling and proper lifting techniques.
Ready to learn more about reducing workplace injury risks? Call 800-523-5367 or click on the button below to speak with an Arbill safety specialist.