This post is the first part of a Risk Factor’s series spotlighting risk prevention in the workplace. Each post will focus on common workplace hazards associated with a specified trade or industry, as well as tips and advice to increased injury prevention.
According to the most recent data available from The Bureau of Labor Statistics on workplace injury, illness and fatalities:
- Nearly 3.0 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported by private industry employers in 2011.
- More than 2.8 million (94.8 percent) of the nearly 3.0 million nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses in 2011 were injuries; 5.2 percent were illnesses.
- Total fatal injuries in all sectors was recorded at 4,609 for 2011, with roadway incidents counting for 1,075, falls, slips and trips at 666, and homicides at 458.
Understanding the Common Claims
Common illnesses reported include skin diseases and disorders, hearing loss, respiratory problems, poisonings, and other conditions.
The Department of Labor and Industries in the State of Washington feature common workplace injuries in the “Making Prevention Count Resource,” which outlines the highest cost workers’ compensation claims.
These injuries include:
- Work-related musculoskeletal disorders of the arms, back and neck.
- Struck by/against impact to the body, or noise to the eardrum.
- Falls from the same level.
- Falls from elevation.
- Work-related musculoskeletal disorders of the lower body.
- Motor vehicle accidents.
- Caught in/under/between - a part of the body is squeezed, pinched or crushed in machinery.
No business is safe from these risks. Your mission is to work against the odds and support ongoing programs to prevent falls and injuries, and save lives.
In the following series, Westfield Risk Factors will discuss important topics in risk prevention, set against specific industries.
Fall Prevention Risks
According to OSHA, falls remain the most common cause of workplace injury and fatalities. In its Slips, Trips & Falls presentation resource (PowerPoint), OSHA shares some alarming statistics about these accidents:
- Slips, trips and falls make up majority of general industry accidents (according to the U.S. Department of Labor) and account for 15 percent of all accidental deaths, approximately 12,000/year, which is the second leading cause behind motor vehicles.
- They are one of most frequently reported injuries, resulting in 25 percent of all claims reporter annually.
- Falls cause more than 17 percent of all disabling occupational injuries.
- Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry.
OSHA offers specific definitions to understand the various fall risks for your business:
- Slips take place when there is too little friction or traction between footware and the walking and working surface.
- Trips occur with loss of balance, caused by the foot or lower leg hitting and object with continued upper body movement, or stepping down to a lower elevated surface.
- Falls are defined by a loss of the center of balance, which can result in falls at the same walking/working surface or into objects above, or falling to levels below the working surface.
These accidents can happen anywhere, and can lead to substantial costs for the business and employee. In the worst cases, they can result in disability or death.
Fall Prevention Takes a Solid Plan
In addition to Fall
Prevention Week, which is celebrated during the third week of June in
partnership with the National Safety Council, OSHA supports an ongoing, three-step
campaign to help prevent falls and injuries:
- Plan ahead to get the job done safely.
- Provide the right equipment.
- Train everyone to use the equipment safely.
Fall prevention for companies is a 24/7 task. Your risks are unique to the working conditions necessary to conduct your business, and thus require a specialized plan of prevention.
As the new year is well underway, the time is now to review your plan, policies and practices, as well as any changing conditions to account for in the near future.
Learn more in the Stop Falls Fact Sheet on OSHA.gov, stay tuned for our next articles in the series (TBD), and contact your Westfield Risk Management representative to start your year safe and secure from slips, trips and falls.