This week our safety briefings will review tips related to the injuries and near misses that happen most often in our workplace. They are incidents that we easily overlook when we’re busy or tired or both. In our efforts to eliminate all injuries from our workplace, focusing on preventing these “minor” incidents will also help keep “major” incidents from happening. Remember, all injuries affect everyone.
Monday – SLIPS & TRIPS
The most common cause of a slip is too little friction or traction between the floor and the walking surface caused by:
- a wet or oily surface
- occasional spills
- weather hazards
- loose, unanchored rugs or mats
- areas of the floor or walking surface with less traction than others
The most common cause of a trip is when the foot hits an obstruction or is impeded by the following:
- uneven steps or walking surfaces
- an obstruction of view
- bottom drawers left open
- bad lighting
- carpet with wrinkles
- cables that are not securely covered
Tuesday – EXERTION AND ERGONOMICS
Another common workplace injury is overexertion when lifting caused by the improper use of lifting techniques.
Types of injury include:
- sprain – the over-stretching or tearing of a ligament
- strain – the stretching and tearing of tendons and muscles
Overexertion occurs when the work required for a task exceeds the limits of the body’s joints’ capabilities. These injuries most often happen in the shoulder, neck, knee, ankle, wrist, and groin.
Activities that can cause overexertion are:
- pushing or pulling
- sitting or standing for long periods of time
- repeated bending or twisting at the waist
Wednesday – PROPER LIFTING TECHNIQUES
- Assess the weight of the load to be lifted by looking at it and by giving the item a little push to get an estimate of the weight.
- Ensure a good grip on the surface of the load before attempting to lift.
- Keep your back in line – DO NOT use your back to lift the item. To help stay in line, look up and forward while lifting.
- Lift the load with your legs and keep it close to your body – reaching can cause injury or loose grip on the load.
- Make sure to stabilize your body and look ahead for any obstructions in the path of carry.
- Avoid twisting the body.
- Remember not to lift any load over 35 lbs. unaided. Seek assistance from a proper lifting device or another person.
Always make a plan when moving an item: “How much weight am I lifting? How far is this load going? What will be in my way while carrying this load? What is the surface condition like where this load is going?”
Thursday – HEAT EXHAUSTION
Symptoms of heat exhaustion:
- lightheadedness or fainting
- moist skin
- mood changes (such as irritability or confusion)
- upset stomach/vomiting
If you or someone around you are showing signs of heat exhaustion, you should:
- Act immediately. If not treated, heat exhaustion may advance to heat stroke or even death.
- Move to a cool, shaded area to rest. Do not leave the victim alone.
- Loosen and remove any heavy clothing.
- If symptoms include dizziness or lightheadedness, lay the victim on his or her back and raise the legs 6-8 inches above the ground.
- If symptoms include nausea or upset stomach, lay the victim on his or her side.
- Have the victim drink cool water unless they are sick to their stomach or unresponsive.
- Cool the person by fanning and spraying with a cool mist of water or applying a wet cloth to the person’s skin (neck, forehead, cheeks, etc.).
Call 911 for help if the victim’s status does not improve in a few minutes.
Friday – MUSCULOSKELETAL DISORDER
Musculoskeletal disorders, also known as MSDs, are injuries that affect the body’s movement and musculoskeletal system. Parts of the body that can be affected are muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, discs, and blood vessels.
Examples of some common disorders: carpal tunnel, muscle or tendon strain, tension neck syndrome, rotator cuff tendonitis, degenerative disc disease, ruptured or herniated disc and many more.
MSDs occur when the body is working hard in one position and begins to fatigue. When fatigue takes over and the body is no longer able to recover, a disorder develops. Using incorrect posture and incorrect ergonomics over time may cause the body to hunch forward, rounding out the spine. Repetition of activities such as sitting at a desk all day without movement may cause a permanent hunch. There are two common factors that can cause a musculoskeletal disorder: ergonomic factors and individual factors.
Ergonomic factors: force, repetition and poor posture
Individual factors: poor work practices, poor fitness and poor health habits.
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