Workplace Safety: Definition and Precautionary Measures

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  • 0:04 Workplace Injuries
  • 0:38 Causes of Workplace Injuries
  • 3:09 Averting Workplace Injuries
  • 4:46 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

What's your line of work? Or, what are the dangers you face at work? Workplace safety is important; that's why we are going to discuss how to keep yourself safe in this lesson.

Workplace Injuries

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about three million workplace injuries occurred in the U.S. in 2012 alone and over 4,000 of these were fatal. Sure, some jobs are more likely to be dangerous than others. I mean, working in an office you're more likely at risk of an occasional paper cut, while working in a place like a forest by being a lumberjack, you risk being crushed by a falling branch or tree every single day. The focus of this lesson will be on workplace injuries and some precautionary measures you can take to avoid them.

Causes of Workplace Injuries

A workplace injury, or work injury, is an injury that arises in the course of or during one's work. Simple enough. While the definition is short and to the point, the reasons for a workplace injury are plentiful.

The leading cause of injury at work is a strain, sprain, or tear, largely due to overexertion or bodily reaction to the work. In fact, repetitive strain injury (RSI) is a common cause of workplace injury. An RSI is a musculoskeletal injury caused by repetitive strain on an arm, hand, wrist, or another part of the body.

A related and oft discussed workplace problem is carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition that results in the compression of the median nerve at the wrist. Carpal tunnel syndrome may be caused when someone makes the same motions with their wrist over and over again. This syndrome will result in pain in the hand and fingers, numbness, weakness of the hand, and tingling.

Less commonly, but ending more often in tragedy, are more shocking types of work injuries. These include crush injuries, burns, electrocutions, or a serious laceration, a wound that's caused by a cut or tear of the flesh. The BLS reported in 2012 that workers who were most likely to be injured were male, white, and aged 45-54. Those over 65 had the fewest rate of injuries, but spent the longest time away from work recovering.

And you may be surprised to learn that the BLS reported that of the 4,400 workplace fatalities recorded in 2012, 767 happened because of violence or injuries caused by people or animals. Of these, 463 were homicides and 225 were suicides. The most frequent cause of either was a shooting. Furthermore, the BLS mentioned in 2012 that some of the professions more likely to result in fatality were:

  • Logging workers
  • Fishers and fishing workers
  • Aircraft pilots and flight engineers
  • Roofers
  • Truck drivers
  • Farmers and ranchers
  • Construction laborers
  • Structural iron and steel workers
  • Electrical power-line installers and repairers

Averting Workplace Injuries

Many workplace dangers are an inevitable part of the job. I mean, being a logger, it may be kind of hard for you to prevent a big branch falling on top of you out of nowhere. Or, if you're a fisherman, then stormy seas are just another day at the office. But other potentially injurious situations can be averted by taking precautionary measures. Many sprains and strains can be prevented by properly lifting objects:

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