Employee Policies HR Management Workplace Safety

Common Causes of Workplace Accidents and Preventing Them

The best way to reduce workplace accidents is to know what the risks are and then take steps to eliminate them. Preventable accidents in the US cause Americans more than $650 billion in 2008, according to the National Safety Council. The Department of Labor indicates that 3.6 workplace injuries occur for every 100 employees annually, according to April 2012 figures. As you can see, these numbers are high, especially when many accidents are in fact preventable.

How to Prevent Workplace Accidents

If saving money and improving work conditions matters, then knowing how to do it starts with identifying the most common causes.

  • Employee carelessness – Employees that do not follow instructions, use required safety equipment, or act inappropriately can often be the biggest cause of these types of accidents. Supervisors must know and do their job to prevent these instances from occurring to prevent workplace accidents.
  • Hazardous chemicals – Improper storage and use of hazardous chemicals is a big problem. Following OSHA standards and the EPA requirements, though, can reduce many of these risks significantly. Employees must know how to take proper precautions. Supervisors need to follow up to ensure this is being done and that other safety measures, such as storing chemicals properly, happens.
  • Defective equipment – Employees must use equipment properly. Management needs to ensure equipment is working properly and is maintained as well. A common cause of problems that’s preventable is not noticing the warning signs of wear and tear that need addressing. This can lead to potential threats to employees.
  • Repetitive motion– A risk factor for many is repetitive motion, or doing the same action so many times that it causes problems within the workings of the body. This includes the use of limbs, sitting or standing. There are steps employers can do to reduce this such as using floor mats with support or by using ergonomically designed equipment.
  • Rotating swing shits – Poor sleep habits, due to swing shifts can be a big factor in workplace accidents. Back-to-back shifts can be problematic, too. Develop shifts that support worker health and offer breaks for those who must work nights or extra shifts, so employees can return to work refreshed.

Ultimately, proper training and education to employees and supervisors reduces all of these risks. By preparing employees for the job, and pinpointing any accident causes, it is very possible to reduce them so much so that costs related to these instances are eliminated. Being mindful of the workplace and the risk factors individuals working there have, is a critical step in maintaining the business’s success, too.

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Tess Taylor

Tess Taylor is the Founder and CEO of HR Knows

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