Observed annually in June by the National Safety Council (NSC), National Safety Month focuses on reducing leading causes of injury and death at work. Every job involves some safety risks, though some more than others. There are several injuries that can put you in harm’s way and keep you from working and earning a paycheck. To help you keep an eye out for safety hazards, we’ve put together a list of five common workplace injuries and how you can avoid them.
Exposure to extreme heat can have serious consequences on outdoor workers, including heat stroke, heat rash, heat cramps and heat exhaustion. Additionally, the symptoms of heat stress—including sweaty palms, fatigue and dizziness—can also put you at risk of other workplace injuries. Keep from getting overheated by drinking plenty of fluids, limiting caffeine intake and taking frequent breaks throughout the workday.
Overexertion is among the most common workplace injuries. Think of incidents like hurting your back moving a heavy box. These injuries happen regularly because they can result from mistakes we all make when we’re fatigued or distracted—like not following the age-old wisdom of lifting with your legs, not your back. There are some ways to prevent overexertion, such as avoiding bending or twisting when you lift and stretching before lifting or other strenuous activities.
Workplace falls are typically separated into two categories: falls from heights and falls on the same level. Falls from heights (or between floors) occur when a worker falls from a higher location like scaffolding or a roof. Falls on the same level can occur when you slip or trip over an object. In many cases, the easiest way to prevent falls is just to be alert.
These injuries might sneak up on you because they’re not the result of a big event. They occur after repeatedly performing a small, seemingly innocuous task over and over again. The wear and tear on your muscles builds up over time, and eventually you find yourself with an injury or condition (such as carpal tunnel syndrome) from overuse. What’s the solution? Try stretching regularly during repetitive tasks to maintain flexibility. Also, you can bring up concerns with your supervisor if your tools and workplace equipment need to be more ergonomic.
Cuts, Punctures or Scrapes
Common injuries like cuts, punctures and scrapes are largely preventable if you’re wearing the appropriate gear. These accidents occur when you’re not protected or when you don’t have control of an object because you’re not wearing the proper equipment. You can help prevent these injuries by wearing the proper PPE, keeping your workspace clear and replacing faulty equipment when necessary.
It’s important to stay alert and exercise caution on a job site. Now that you know some common workplace injuries, here are some tips to keep in mind to stay safe:
- Always wear the appropriate PPE.
- Pay attention to your surroundings.
- Report any safety concerns.
- Don’t perform any task if you don’t feel properly trained or protected.
- If you experience any injury (even if it seems harmless), report it immediately.