Protecting your employees form overexertion injuries

When it comes to your employees, you are responsible for providing them with a safe work environment. While many small business owners think about workplace safety from the standpoint of harassment and violence, there are other types of injuries that are just as common. 

For instance, according to the National Safety Council, overexertion injuries are the second leading nonfatal injury or illness event that forces employees to miss work. It also accounts for almost 22% of all injuries reported in the workplace. 

With overexertion injuries so prevalent, how do you protect your employees?

Even though it’s impossible to prevent every injury, there are some steps you can take to make your work environment safer. 

Let’s look at some of these preventative strategies and dive deeper into overexertion injuries in the workplace.

What is an overexertion injury?

Overexertion injuries include any injury that happens due to performing a task beyond one’s physical limitations. When people think about these injuries, they often associate them with more physically demanding workplaces like construction sites and health care facilities. However, an overexertion injury can occur in any type of work environment.

What is the most common cause of overexertion injuries?

Since overexertion injuries often result from performing a task above an employee’s physical activity, the most common causes often involve physical activity. For example, one of the leading causes of an overexertion injury is lifting a heavy object. 

Regardless of whether the object is a piece of machinery or a box in the office, it’s fairly easy to pull a muscle or damage a part of the body without the proper equipment and technique.

Here are a few other common causes of an overexertion injury:

  • Bending, stooping, or crawling for an extended period
  • Working in extreme conditions
  • Repetitive tasks that require workers to work without breaks
  • Pushing and pulling heavy objects

How can safe lifting help prevent overexertion injuries?

Improper lifting is often one of the reasons why overexertion injuries can happen when picking up any item, regardless of weight. Training staff on the proper way to lift an object automatically decreases the risk of one of these injuries occurring. However, other factors can lead to overexertion injuries.

For instance, employees must understand when they need to ask for help when moving a heavy object. Making sure that they have assistance from either a co-worker or a lifting device can help cut down on the number of injuries.

4 tips to lower the odds of an overexertion injury from happening

Overexertion injuries are one of the most preventable injuries in the workplace. With a few tactics and tips, you can easily cut down the number of instances in your company. Let’s look at a few of these simple strategies.

Hold regular training sessions on proper lifting techniques

It’s common for workers to not give it much thought when lifting a light object. However, even small items moved without the proper technique can result in an injury such as a strained or pulled muscle. One way to combat these injuries is to hold regular training sessions that focus on the proper way to move and lift objects. 

Throughout these training sessions, it’s essential to discuss proper lifting techniques and provide workers with resources for when an item is too heavy to move alone.

Improve current processes to eliminate unnecessary tasks

Another common cause of overexertion injuries is repetitive motions and tasks. By looking at your current processes, there could be an opportunity to streamline specific functions to reduce the stress an employee is under. For instance, workers in a manufacturing environment might benefit from having their tools positioned higher.

Purchase lifting and moving equipment for your staff

Depending on your industry, purchasing equipment to help with the lifting and moving of objects can help cut down the risk of injuries for employees. Equipment can also help eliminate repetitive motions and tasks that lead to long-term injuries.

Invest in ergonomics for your office employees

Even though most office employees won’t be required to lift objects as part of their daily jobs, they’re still capable of sustaining overexertion injuries. For example, sitting at a desk for seven to eight hours each day can lead to back injuries. One way to cut down on these injuries is to invest in ergonomic workstations that promote good posture.

Can workers’ comp protect workers if an overexertion injury occurs?

If one of your workers sustains an overexertion injury, then your workers’ compensation insurance policy should cover the treatment and medical costs associated with the incident. The only instances where it might not cover the expenses are if the injury occurred due to employee negligence or the use of drugs and alcohol.

Thanks for reading! Please note that this content is intended for educational purposes only. As best practices change regularly, you should refer to your trusted advisor for specific counsel. If you’re a small business owner, learn more about workplace safety or check your workers’ comp rate in 3 minutes.

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