Avoiding Office Injuries: Keeping Workers Safe and Saving Money

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How Safety Impacts Work Incidents

“Wow. I’m going to be working in an office. How dangerous can this job be?” I thought as my current employer asked me about how I approach safety in my second interview. I was dead wrong. According to Liberty Mutual’s Workplace Safety Index for 2011, virtually all of the workplace accidents that lead to workers’ compensation claims can happen in the office. These are injuries that anyone can experience – injuries that will cost your company – sometimes millions. In 2009, workplace injuries cost US companies $50.1 billion. But even more important, these injuries cost people their lives and caused unneeded pain and suffering.

Let’s take a look at the most typical work incidents and injuries, by cost, in Liberty Mutual’s study, and discuss how to prevent them in your office:

Overexertion – 28.5%
Have you ever picked up a water bottle or a box of copier paper and felt a twinge in your back? Have you ever picked something up, then decided it was too heavy? Overexertion injuries happen when you pick something up improperly, or lift something too heavy, even if you do it properly. Be sure to lift with your legs. Wear a support belt if you are going to be doing any heavy lifting. If in doubt, get help.

Fall on Same Level – 17.7%
You might think falling down the stairs is dangers – and it is! But falling down in the hallway or break room is more common. Mop up spills right away. Don’t leave a spill for a co-worker to slip on. Be careful in breakrooms – look for spilled food or liquids. Bananas get a bad rap, but stepping on a grape is particularly dangerous.

Fall to Lower Level – 12.0%
This probably happens less in offices than in the field, but it does happen, especially when carrying things up or down stairs. Leave at least one hand free, hold on to the handrail, and take it slow.

Bodily Reaction – 11.8%
I had to look this one up. When you are falling and you get hurt catching yourself, this is called a “bodily reaction injury.” So the same fall prevention procedures as above apply here.

The additional types of injuries that round out the top 10 are “Struck by object,” “Highway Incident,” “Caught in /Compressed by.” “Struck against object” (like a filing cabinet left open) , “Repetive motion,” and “Assault/violence.”

Office & Work Injuries are Serious Business

All office injuries are preventable. It is every workers’ responsibility to prevent office injuries. If you’re in HR, find out how much office injuries are costing your company and make a pitch to lower that number. If you’re not in HR, advocate with your colleagues to work safely, and do everything in your power to keep you and your co-workers safe.

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