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Monthly Archives: December 2013

  • 2012 Shows Decrease in Serious Injuries, More Time out of Work

    workplace safetyNearly a year after the 2012 year has ended, the numbers have been compiled and figures provided by the federal government are showing that there were fewer serious workplace injuries as compared to 2011. However, the numbers are also showing that the injuries resulted in longer periods of time away from work, with the average amount of time being 9 days for recuperation as compared to 8 days in 2011.
     
    In other words, there have been fewer injuries overall but the injuries themselves have been more serious occurrences.
     
    Of the total, ergonomic injuries account for about 34% (or one in three), which is generally unchanged from the prior year. Yet again, the average amount of time away from work as a result of these injuries increased to 12 days from 11. Injuries to laborers and those working with freight, stock and materials showed the highest number of ergonomically injuries with a rate of 164 injuries per 10,000 workers. In 2011 there were only 140 injuries per 10,000.
     
    The leading general causes for injuries in 2012 are as follows
     
    • Overexertion, responsible for 63% of cases
    • Slips, trips and falls which account for 23%
     
    The most common types of injuries that occurred were sprains, strains and tears. These accounted for 38% of the total while shoulder problems make up 13% and knee problems account for 12%.
     
    While one might assume that older employees might be more susceptible to injuries related to overexertion, the lowest injury rate was actually among those workers who fall into the group of 65 or older. Additionally, the same group required the longest amount of recovery time and therefor the longest number of days out of work at an average of 14 days. The highest injury rate by age group was among those who are 45 to 54 years old.
     
    The seriousness of training and safety precautions among employers and employees is also a concern, as numbers are showing that new workers with less experience account for 30% of all cases which is an 8% increase over the 2011 working year.
     
    Of course, there are always certain areas where injury numbers will rise and other areas where numbers will fall. These are factors that depend on which statistical variables are analyzed and reported on. When grouped by occupation, age, type of injury and other factors, the numbers can change drastically. The most important factor is that the number of fatal injuries has decreased in 2012, which is definitely a positive statistic.
     
    Whether you're an employer or an employee, workplace safety should be a top priority. We spend a lot of time at work which means there's an increased chance that we will experience and injury at some point. Observing and exercising the best safety practices can not only reduce the intensity of these injuries but it can prevent them altogether. Encourage your employees, employer or co-workers to educate themselves on workplace safety and to follow the best practices for their occupation and job duties. Remember, a safe workplace is a smart workplace.

  • Winter in the Workplace - Proper Safety Preparations

    winter workplace safetyWith winter in full swing, it's important that employers look out for the safety of their employees, especially those whose day-to-day tasks include working and traveling in cold temperatures while dealing with ice, snow, freezing rains and hazardous roadway or job site conditions.
     
    Just as the peak months of summer require extra attention to safety for the prevention of heat stress and heat-related illness, the winter months bring their own set of obstacles that can prove to be quite challenging if you're not properly prepared.
     
    In addition to the workers own responsibilities such as dressing accordingly for the frigid cold, it's the job of the employer to ensure safe working conditions in regard to the work environment. This includes things such as a job site that's free of hazards (like excessive ice) and a company vehicle that's equipped with emergency supplies should weather conditions or a mechanical failure cause drivers to become stranded in a remote area in dangerously cold temperatures. Instead of assuming that "things will be fine", it's always a good idea to be prepared for the worst - just in case.
     
    According to OSHA, 70% of workplace injuries that are a direct result of the weather are due to vehicle accidents while about 25% of injuries are obtained from being stranded in the cold during storm conditions.
     
    We urge you - whether an employer or an employee - to be prepared, anticipate the hazards of rapid changes in the weather and to develop strategies for staying safe during extreme conditions.
     
    Below are a few of the best practices that can be followed for specific situations. While there are many possibilities that aren't addressed, these are a few general guidelines to follow to help ensure safety and capability in emergency situations.
     
    Traveling in Extreme Weather
    • Inspect vehicles at regular intervals, preferably daily before use to ensure proper functionality of tires, brake systems, cooling systems and visibility features such and wipers and/or defroster.
    • Equip each vehicle with a winter emergency kit. A kit should contain a minimum of a blanket(s), emergency radio, flashlight and fresh batteries, a heat source, road flares, jumper cables, and a shovel. Additional items may be needed depending on the location, weather and terrain.
     
    Working in Extreme Weather
    • Prevent Frostbite and Hypothermia: Both of these conditions are threatening to health and can even be fatal in extreme cases. Workers should dress properly to protect themselves from the extreme cold, wind and water. Waterproof and/or windproof clothing is a good idea and it's always smart to wear more than needed to keep warm. Layers can always be removed as needed so it's best to ensure maximum warmth. Drinking warm beverages and taking frequent breaks in warming shelters could be necessary during severe temperature situations.

    • Avoid Slips and Falls: Although outdoor conditions can make it difficult to keep an area completely clear of hazards, it's a good idea to keep areas with high foot traffic clear of obstructions including ice and standing water. Wear boots that offer increased traction, keep slippery surfaces salted/sanded and avoid leaving tools or materials in the snow as low visibility can increase the risk of injury.
     
    Remember, life threatening situations always come unexpectedly. Be sure to discuss and properly plan for winter weather safety with your employer, employees and/or co-workers. For more information on winter work safety, visit this helpful winter safety guide from OSHA.

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