Writer: Joanne Sprung
If you have ever been injured on the job or know someone who has then you likely realize how frustrating it can be. Aside from the physical pain it can cause, some workplace mishaps can set you on the sidelines indefinitely and even haunt you for life.
In the United Kingdom the total number of workdays lost due to work-related health issues has fallen from 39.8 million in 2002 to 28.2 million in 2014. This has been largely attributed to improved health and safety protocols in the work environment. Still, health and safety continues to be a big topic of discussion among occupational experts around the world. This is because Europe, the United States and Canada have not only struggled with how to deal with lost man hours, but also the burden work-related accidents place on our healthcare system. Occupational therapists say the injury numbers are still too high; that the office and the factory need to be safer.
Occupational Health Advisor, Linda MacMinnis tells Illumineris that developing a “safety conscious” culture is a good first step in preventing unnecessary mishaps.
“It’s impossible to eliminate every single hazard, but focusing on safety will significantly reduce the incidence of work-related accidents and illness,” MacMinnis says.
While each workspace is unique, health and safety advisors believe there are a few key points everyone should keep in mind to ensure a safer atmosphere.
Don’t take shortcuts
We all want to get the job done on schedule, but taking shortcuts or doing things too quickly can often lead to accidents. Stick to the instructions and be aware of the surroundings.
Know the layout
Make sure you are familiar with the building you work in, including all the exits; stairways and other possible escape routes. In the event of an emergency you will need to know where the closest and safest exitis.
Inspect company vehicles
Workplace driving accidents can be costly for employers. All vehicles should be inspected on a monthly basis to ensure they are safe for the road
If you work outside, dress appropriately for the weather conditions. For example, in winter cover your head, feet, face and hands- these parts of your body are more prone to frostbite. If you work inside, wear proper safety equipment. For example, boots, goggles, gloves and face protection. When you are exposed to extreme heat, make sure you take frequent breaks in a cool rest area and drink plenty of fluids.
Tidy your space
Poor housekeeping can lead to freak accidents so clean up paper, clutter, spills and other debris from your work area. Report slip-and-trip type hazards as soon as you notice them.
Back related injuries are very common and in many cases the cause is lifting improperly. If you are unsure about lifting something discuss it with your superior.
Always use the right tools
Do not proceed with the work if you do not have the proper tools to do the job.
Take appropriate breaks
It is important to be fresh and alert. This will help you avoid both injury and burnout. Try doing the most difficult tasks of the day at times when your concentration is the best.
Alcohol and drugs are involved in an estimated three per cent of workplace fatalities so stay sober on the job.
No matter what your job, it is important to stay healthy and injury free. Many work places have a health and safety committee so if you have specific questions about safety in your work environment you have a group within easy reach.