From the June Mercy Occupational Medicine eNewsletter
Each June, the National Safety Council reminds employers to spend some time reviewing and addressing workplace safety in honor of National Safety Month, drawing special attention to the leading causes of preventable injuries and deaths in the workplace. Below are five safety tips to help employers make the most of National Safety Month and ensure their employees stay safe at work.
- Prevent musculoskeletal disorders. Tools designed to work with the body’s natural movements can minimize the risk for developing musculoskeletal disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, and trigger finger. Consider investing in ergonomic equipment, and examine work design to help reduce worker fatigue, increase productivity, and avoid injuries and strains.
- Respect and prepare for invisible confined space hazards. Atmospheric hazards might not be visible to the human eye, but they are all too common in places like manholes or other confined spaces. Before heading into a manhole or other type of confined or closed workspace, practice OSHA’s “test, purge and ventilate” routine to ensure that the space is free of combustible gases and has ample oxygen.
- Be visible on the road. A 2020 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report shows that sales workers who drive and truck drivers incurred 1,005 fatal occupational injuries, the highest since the data began being collected in 2003. Other road related injuries and deaths can occur from workers in construction and utilities industries. Whether repairing a cable line on the side of a highway or directing traffic around a construction site, high-visibility clothing and equipment can prevent these devastating incidents.
- Take ladder safety a step higher. According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, approximately 65,000 workers go to the hospital every year due to ladder-related accidents. Before using a ladder, inspect it for broken rungs, missing bolts and other broken parts, and make sure it is placed on level ground. When climbing up and down, face the ladder while holding onto the sides. Use a ladder wedge to help keep the ladder steady.
- Keep your cool. Take preventative measures when working in the summer heat. High temperatures can be dangerous to people at work and can lead to injuries, illnesses, and even death. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, exposure to environmental heat led to 37 work-related deaths and 2,830 nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses involving days away from work in 2015. Ensure employees stay hydrated, take regular breaks, and wear lightweight clothing. Tents and umbrellas also can help safeguard workers from the beating sun.
For National Safety Month, we encourage employers in all industries to make the extra effort to examine their current safety initiatives to ensure that they are taking measures to keep their employees safe and productive.
Sources: National Safety Council, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics