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.
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
- 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:
- When lifting, don't bend at the waist.
- Bend, instead, at the knees and hips.
- Place your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Lift gradually so you don't pull a muscle all of the sudden.
- Keep the object close to your body because that reduces the workload.
- Turn by changing the position of your feet instead of twisting your back.
- Put the object down gently in a manner similar to how you picked it up by keeping your back straight and bending at the knees and hips.
If you work at the office, keep a good posture so your back doesn't get hurt, stretch your wrists prior to using them, and most importantly take lots of breaks from your task by standing up and moving about if you've been sitting too long, or if you've been standing all day, try sitting down for a bit. Other solutions to work injuries should be provided to you by your employer since you have every right to know how to protect your health. Some employers may require you to wear a helmet if you work in a construction zone. Maybe you'll have to wear eye protection, steel tipped shoes, or attend a specialized training class on how to avoid being electrocuted.
This lesson discussed work-related injuries. A workplace injury, or work injury, is an injury that arises out of the course of or during one's work. The leading cause of injury at work is a strain, sprain, or tear. A 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 problem is carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition that results in the compression of the median nerve at the wrist.
People can also suffer from burns, electrocutions, crush injuries, or a laceration, a wound that's caused by a cut or tear of the flesh. While everyone can get injured at work, some professions, like lumberjacks, fishermen, and electrical power-line workers, are more likely to end up getting seriously hurt or killed. To help prevent problems, make sure to lift objects properly, take frequent breaks, abide by your employer's safety regulations, and attend any and all safety training sessions your company provides.
Once you have finished this lesson, you should be able to:
- List examples of different work related injuries
- Discuss ways to prevent workplace injuries
- Recall types of jobs with a higher risk of workplace injuries