When it comes to the workplace, safer is always better. There are countless workers compensation cases filed each year in the United States, and many of them could have been prevented. Furthermore, according to a national survey completed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2010, costs associated with workers compensation amounted to 1.6% of all employer spending in that year. The long-term prognosis of workers compensation patients also tended to be worse than that of patients who were seen for non-work related injuries and illnesses.
All of this leads us back to the theme of prevention. It goes without saying that the only “good” workplace injuries and illnesses are the ones that never happen. To that end, let’s discuss four categories of common workplace hazards that often lead to illness, injury, and workers compensation cases. By doing so, we’ll be able to creater better strategies for prevention.
1. Basic safety hazards
We really are talking about the basics: Things like spills and extension cords that can lead to falls, ladders and platforms, exposed machinery, electrical hazards, and even tight or confined spaces. These types of hazards are often present as a result of negligence or poor organization, and a thorough safety check and minimize or remove them. That means a safer work environment for your employees, which is always the most important thing. It can also mean savings for your business over the long term.
2. Biological and chemical hazards
It’s no secret that a lot of workers in various environments suffer work-related illness from biological and chemical hazards. Such hazards can include everything from mold and fungus to bacteria and viruses. Plants, insects and animals can also lead to illness or injury in outdoor work environments. Chemical hazards also deserve close scrutiny. Examples include paints and solvents, vapors and fumes, byproducts, various gases, pesticides, and other chemicals that can be harmful if ingested.
3. Ergonomic hazards
This one is particularly relevant in the modern world, where increasing numbers of people work long hours at a desk everyday. We don’t normally think of office work as causing illness or injury – but studies and statistics have proven that office work can indeed be hazardous. Chairs and workstations that are not ergonomically sound can lead to injuries over time. Repetitive movements can also lead to injuries and chronic conditions, such as carpal tunnel syndrome. These things should be taken seriously by office environments in order to protect workers and minimize costs over time.
Talk to your occupational medicine specialist for more information
If you’re a manager or owner in a small-to-medium business, it helps to know that there are medical professionals out there who specialize in occupational medicine and workers compensation. Your local urgent care center may be one of these specialists, and can help you organize and optimize your company’s worker’s compensation protocols, as well as identify any potential workplace hazards that need to be addressed. Workers compensation may seem complicated, but the right medical team can make it simple.