Avoiding Office Injuries: Keeping Workers Safe and Saving Money

How Safety Impacts Work Incidents

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 lifted a box of copy paper or a water bottle and experienced back pain? Have you ever determined something was too heavy after picking it up? Even if you pick something up correctly, overexertion injuries can still occur if you lift something too heavy or poorly. Lift with your legs only, always. If you’re going to be performing any heavy lifting, wear a support belt. If unsure, get assistance.

Fall on Same Level – 17.7%
It’s true that falling down the stairs can be dangerous. But accidents happening in the corridor or break room happen more frequently. Immediately clean up spills. Don’t leave a spill where a colleague could trip over it. Look out for spilled food or liquids in the breakrooms. Although they don’t get a good reputation, grapes are much more dangerous than bananas.

Fall to Lower Level – 12.0%
Although it presumably occurs less frequently in offices than in the field, it does occasionally occur, particularly when lugging objects up or down stairs. Hold on to the handrail, keep at least one hand free, and move slowly.

Bodily Reaction – 11.8%

This was one I had to look up. A “bodily reaction injury” occurs when you fall and harm yourself catching yourself. Therefore, the same fall prevention measures described above apply.

The top 10 list is completed by “Struck by item,” “Highway Incident,” and “Caught in /Compressed by” injuries. “Struck against object,” “Repeated motion,” and “Assault/violence” are examples of these terms.

Office & Work Injuries are Serious Business

Every workplace injury is avoidable. Preventing workplace injuries is the duty of every employee. Find out how much office injuries are costing your business if you work in HR, then propose a plan to reduce that figure. If you’re not in HR, encourage your coworkers to work properly and take all necessary precautions to ensure your and their safety.

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Dan Lovejoy

Dan Lovejoy is a User Interface & Experience Architect at OG&E and a self-admitted adorable curmudgeon. The opinions here are his own and not his employer — in case you were wondering.


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