Accidents in the workplace occur approximately 3.3 million times a year in the United States. This is an alarming statistic, especially since most accidents, even minor ones, typically require a certain amount of time away from work. In 2007, a total of 34 million work days were lost because of workplace-related accident or illness. Of these, 6 million were due to injuries within the workplace, while 28 million were ‘work-related’ ill health days. It is, therefore, very important to identify the major causes of accidents as the first step in preventing them in order to reduce injury and health care costs. People working in different types of job obviously face a range of different hazards. For example, an office worker is much less at risk from burns than a chef, but there are a range of common accidents and injuries which occur across all occupational sectors.
Slips, Trips, and Falls
In 2007, these accounted for almost four out of every ten major workplace injuries. While they are technically three different accidents, they are often grouped together as one large problem. Slips, trips and falls can often result in serious injuries, from pulled muscles to broken bones. There are several ways to reduce these types of injuries. Use signs to warn others of wet floors, make sure walkways are always clean and clear, and never run wires or cords across high traffic areas. Employees should immediately report any spills, slick spots, or other hazards to their supervisor.
These types of accidents can be extremely dangerous. If the voltage is high enough or the current passes through the heart, a person can be killed. Also, many fires in the workplace are caused by faulty electrical wiring. Electrocution can be prevented by checking cords and wiring for frays or tears before plugging them in. This will reduce the chance of starting a fire. Never allow drinks or other liquids near electrical equipment as they could spill and cause the wiring to short out.
Manual Handling Accidents
These types of accidents often involve lifting, pushing, lowering, carrying, and several other types of strenuous movements. These accidents most often result in sprains, strains, back injuries, and neck injuries. The number of manual handling injuries in the workplace can be reduced by practicing proper lifting methods. If something is too heavy to be moved or lifted alone, employees should find help or use a machine to ensure the job is done safely.
Statistics show that serious workplace injuries are far too common. In 2010 alone, over 4,500 American workers were killed on the job, while millions more suffered serious non-fatal injuries. Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that workplace deaths and non-fatal accidents have been decreasing in recent years, there is still a lot of room to improve workplace safety.
“Every day in America, 12 people go to work and never come home,” Hilda Solis, the Secretary of Labor, wrote in a blog entry. “Every year in America, 3.3 million people suffer a workplace injury from which they may never recover. These are preventable tragedies that disable our workers, devastate our families, and damage our economy.”
Prevention is the most effective and efficient way to reduce the incidence of common accidents in the workplace so be sure to follow all safety rules and regulations set forth by the employer. If an accident does occurs, immediately report it to a supervisor so that it can be determined if medical attention is necessary.