How to Reduce Injuries in the Workplace

How to Reduce Injuries in the Workplace

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Around 50 people die, and many are injured in workplace accidents in New Zealand every year. Everyone expects to go to work, remain safe, then return home to their families in one piece, but that isn’t, unfortunately, always the case. Many things can cause workplace accidents, and not all of them are within our control. However, the following advice may be able to help you remain as safe as possible during your nine to five work away from home.

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Use Available Technology

You would be amazed at the technology the average workplace can have at its disposal. A traditionally manual job can now be managed by materials handling equipment and similar machines that do all the heavy lifting for you. For example, in days gone by, a warehouse worker would have to carry boxes by hand to vehicles for loading. This could have a severe impact on their health and wellbeing over time. Such a job also puts the person at risk of back strain, slipped discs, and other serious back and spinal injuries.

Then, materials handling equipment such as floor cranes, forklifts, and material lifts came along – making the workplace safer and more comfortable for everyone involved. By investing in such technology, you’re also able to boost productivity. The initial investment will pay for itself before long while potentially decreasing the number of sick days your team has to take.

Identify Hazards

Not everything in your workplace is an easily identifiable hazard. It should be. If you want to reduce injuries in your workplace, you need to identify possible dangers that can harm your staff. Where you can, aim to reduce the risks or eliminate the hazards. For example, if there’s an area of your workplace that is always wet, make sure your workers know it. Put out “wet floor” signs, cone off dangerous areas, and remind people to be cautious when entering particular areas. Before long, it will be common knowledge that you have to watch your step when entering a building’s specific spaces.

Eliminate as Many Hazards as Possible

When you have a creaky floorboard in your house, you learn to step over it. When you know your pantry is packed to bursting, you learn to open it slowly to reduce the risk of items falling out. You can almost get complacent about a hazard, knowing it’s there and skirting around it. All it takes is for someone not to know it’s there, and they can end up covered in pantry goods or falling through the dodgy floorboard in your home. In the workplace, the same concept applies. The majority of your team may know the hazards are there, but not everyone will. Always try to eliminate as much of them as possible.

Take the dairy industry, for example. Managers put steps in place to manage hazards every day. They install kick rails to minimize the risk of a cow kicking injuries and fence off effluent ponds to reduce drowning risk. They also guard rotary platform rollers to make sure the entire milking process goes off without a hitch. The key is to first identify the risk, then minimize or eliminate it. You can then enjoy a reduction in workplace injuries.

Make Staff Training a Priority

The Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 states that all employees should be trained and supervised to safely carry out their work. That act is paramount to follow. New workers, young and inexperienced workers, and those who haven’t completed a particular task in a while are all vulnerable to workplace injuries. All managers and workers should ensure that anyone carrying out a potentially dangerous task has the right skills and knowledge to do so safely. Any equipment such as materials handling gear should also have all the correct safety information and guards it arrived with as a brand new unit.

There is a general protocol to follow for every new staff member you hire to do a job. Give them an induction involving showing them around, identifying hazards, and explaining safety procedures. You should then place the skills they need and should have to complete a job. Keep records of all training and instructions you offer, ensuring you understand and know what jobs each worker does and can do, or shouldn’t and can’t.

Conclusion

You will not be able to eliminate workplace injuries entirely. An office worker can get a papercut that turns septic, or a customer can trip over their shoes and break their arm on your watch. It’s impossible to eliminate every risk and manage every person’s daily actions. What you can do, however, is minimize the risk significantly. Invest in materials handling equipment, improve staff training, and identify, eliminate, and reduce workplace hazards. When in doubt, bring in the experts to help you identify every potential risk.

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