A previous post reported that there were 4,379 fatal workplace injuries and illnesses in the private industry during 2015. Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there were 2.9 million nonfatal private industry workplace injuries. A recent Chicago Now article discussed some of the most common workplace injuries in various industries and how to prevent workplace accidents in those settings.
The most dangerous and most fatal industry for workplace injuries is the construction industry. One in five of the 4,379 fatal workplace accidents of 2015 involved construction workers. Chicago Now suggests that workers always wear hard hats at a job site. This can help protect employees from falling debris. Workers should also watch out for common hazards such as extension cords, equipment malfunctions, and chemical-based cleaners that could contain harmful substances.
The Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA) also suggests that construction works take these steps to prevent construction-site accidents:
- Ensure that scaffold has been inspected
- Be extra cautious to see that there is no wear and tear on electrical equipment and follow the safety precautions listed for the equipment
- Avoid areas without no fencing or broken and damaged fencing
- Be alert of combustible chemicals and welding operations and take measures to prevent fire; if a fire occurs, know where a fire extinguisher is located and how to use it
- Demand that your employer provides proper-fitting protective gear, including helmets, gloves, anti-slip footwear, and other protective apparel
- Keep first-aid kits nearby and readily available
While workplace injuries are most often associated with the construction industry, on the job accidents and illnesses can occur anywhere — even in an office setting. According to the United States Department of Commerce Office of Human Resources Management, slip and fall accidents are the number one cause of office-related injuries. The Office of HR Management suggests office employees prevent workplace slip and fall accidents by:
- Ensuring pathways are clear
- Secure electrical cords and wires from walkways
- Close drawers completely after use
- Avoid excessive bending, twisting, and leaning backward while seated
- Always use a stepladder for overhead reaching. Chairs should never be used as ladders.
- Never carry anything that obscures your vision
- Wear stable shoes with non-slip soles.
Chicago Now suggests that other common workplace injuries and illnesses among office workers are a result of repetition, such as typing, using a computer mouse or holding a telephone. Improper posture and uncomfortable sitting conditions can also cause workplace injuries for office workers.
Monster.com offers some suggestions to preventing workplace injuries around the office, including:
- Take breaks to get out of your chair and stretch your legs
- Adjust your seating position and chair height as necessary to keep straight posure
- Adjust your viewpoint so your eyes gaze naturally at the middle of the screen
- Speak up if you see any problems or if you need any special items such as an ergonomic keyboard.
In addition to construction sites and offices, Chicago Now also discusses the risk of warehouse injuries. Warehouse employees are exposed to the risk of injuries from heavy machinery and industrial conveyor belts, along with shelves of material and products. However, like the office setting, workplace slip and fall accidents account for the majority of warehouse-related accidents. To prevent warehouse slip and fall accidents, workers can:
- Keep the main floor clean and clear of debris
- Designate clear lanes to keep foot traffic separate from moving equipment, such as forklifts
- Perform routine maintenance on machinery
Workers in all industries are at susceptible to workplace accidents and illnesses. In addition to leaving employees with debilitating injuries, Such events can also decrease company productivity and cost companies $250 billion a year, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Preventing workplace illnesses and injuries can save productivity, money – and lives! To learn more about workplace safety regulations and to prevent work-related accidents, visit the OSHA website. Workers injured on the job should also consult with a personal injury lawyer to preserve their legal rights and discuss their eligibility to file a third-party lawsuit.