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How to avoid injuries in the workplace

Although workplace health and safety initiatives have seen the average Australian workplace become safer in recent years, injuries on the job still cost the economy $60 billion each year.

That figure alone may be astounding, but for employees injured in their line of work the toll is much greater than financial, potentially affecting them emotionally and threatening their ability to play a role in the workforce in the future.

Here are some tips on how to avoid injuries in the workplace.

Back injury

Injury to the upper or lower back as a result of incorrect lifting, poor workplace posture or carrying items that are too heavy is one of the most common complaints in the workplace, accounting for more than 20% of workplace compensation claims each year.

To avoid back strain or ongoing pain, ensure you lift heavy items correctly (with good form or with a buddy), that your workstation is set up correctly with desk height and monitor angles taken into account, and that you warm up or stretch before undertaking strenuous manual tasks.

Repetitive strain

Despite a greater focus on ergonomic design in the workplace, carpel tunnel and repetitive strain injuries are still among the most common injuries workers incur on the job. These injuries are a result of day-to-day tasks like typing, stapling, drilling and hammering.

A key to avoiding such injuries is to ensure, where possible, repetitive tasks are distributed evenly between you and your colleagues. You should also take regular breaks to move around every hour, while workspaces should be designed for maximum comfort and correct posture.

Slips, trips and falls

Preventing slips, trips and falls is largely about education, procedure and risk assessment.

Many of these types of injuries occur due to unexpected items being left around, floor surfaces changing, or spills. Your workplace should be free from clutter; any spills should be tended to immediately and signed correctly, and uneven surfaces that present tripping hazards should be remedied in a timely manner.

All staff should also be encouraged to report any potential hazards, and the workplace should be regularly assessed for potential risks.

Moving objects

Workplaces that have machinery present many risks for workers, like being hit and seriously injured by moving objects. The key to minimising danger is to follow proper workplace health and safety procedure. This means wearing high visibility clothing, PPE, and ensuring areas with machinery are correctly signed.

Work sites should have adequate lighting and areas where machines are located should be restricted to authorised and essential staff only. Meanwhile, any machinery should have clearly marked exclusion zones, and may need to have audible alarms and visible flashing lights when in use. Staff should also be trained regularly in the correct operation of machinery and risk management.

Safety in the workplace is largely about assessing risks, remedying them and being educated and aware about potential dangers in the environment. However, despite the best practices and procedures, accidents can and do occur every day.

At the least, injuries can be costly due to time away from work and, at the worst, fatal. If you have suffered an injury due to a preventable accident in the workplace, organisations like The Personal Injury Lawyers can assist in ensuring you have access to the best possible financial package and medical assistance for the future.