When you own and/or run a business, it’s important to do everything you can to not only engage your workforce and reward them appropriately, but also to ensure they have a safe space to work at every day. Read on for some of the most common workplace issues to be aware of, and some tips for keeping your employees protected.
Slips, Trips, and Falls
Each year, thousands of people hurt themselves at work when they slip, trip, or fall. It doesn’t matter the industry or location, these issues can happen anywhere, and not only cause pain and time off work, but even disabilities and death.
Commonly, people end up with sprains and strains (particularly to ankles and wrists) or with an injured head, neck or back when they take a tumble. A lot of these accidents occur because floors are messy or wet. As well, sometimes workers may be handling large workplace items and either don’t see a hazard in front of them and trip over (or fall down steps), or end up on the floor due to trying to carry something large by themselves.
To avoid these kinds of situations, employees should be taught to keep workplace areas clean and dry, and free from hazards. Clutter should be cleared out often, and signs should be erected when surfaces become slippery. It’s best if cleaning crews come in to mop at night or other times when staff have gone home. Employees should be taught to immediately clean up any messes during the day that could lead to accidents too.
It also helps if most items in the workplace, especially larger ones, are given specific storage spaces. This way, workers won’t be so likely to trip over boxes, crates, tubes, barrels, and the like sitting in the middle of a (usually clear) walkway.
Lifting and Moving Things
While lifting and moving things at work can cause employees to slip, trip and fall, they can also cause other injuries and accidents. For example, many workers end up with torn muscles, hurt ligaments, slipped discs, or other issues because they try to lift and move items which are too heavy, bulky, or awkward for them to carry safely.
To keep your employees safer at work then, teach your team proper lifting techniques, and how to use proper posture when carrying items. They should be encouraged to get help to move items when required (this includes not just assistance from colleagues but also via mechanical aids such as forklifts or trolleys), and to avoid moving things by themselves in cramped confines where they will have to bend and twist awkwardly.
Repetitive Motion Injuries
If you want to create a safe work environment for your staff members, it’s also important to be aware of the issue of repetitive motion injuries. These health problems are becoming increasingly common these days, as more and more people spend eight or more hours a day typing on computers or using other devices (such as jackhammers) repetitively.
While health concerns from repetitive strain injury (RSI) and other related issues don’t just happen overnight, they can become incredibly painful and debilitating over time. Many workers have to take weeks, months or even years off work, while others have to change their career or retire early.
To help keep your workers free from these problems, ensure employees are given access to the most ergonomic equipment possible. As well, train team members on healthy working postures and sensible health measures such as taking regular breaks to stretch and move about.
Working at Heights
Lastly, working at heights is another workplace practice that results in many employee accidents, injuries and deaths each year. Keep in mind that people don’t have to be working multiple stories above the ground either – falling from a ladder can lead to short-term or permanent injuries and, sometimes, even death.
To keep staff members safer when they work at heights, make sure jobs performed above the ground are carefully planned out. Potential risks should be considered, by examining factors such as how high people will be working, how long they’ll be up there, the conditions of the surface they’ll be working on, and the type of job they’ll be performing.
While sometimes it’s possible to find work-around solutions so that tasks can be performed on the ground instead of in the air, or at least at a lower height, when this isn’t possible ensure your staff members are trained on safe working-at-height practices, take regular breaks, and use safety equipment like hard hats, harnesses, gloves, goggles, tower scaffolds, guardrails, scissor lifts, and secure ladders. This equipment needs to be regularly checked and maintained too.