While careers are key to providing for our families, they can also make us vulnerable to life changing accidents. While some injuries may be minor, others can result in long-term disabilities or prove fatal. Why is this? Employees are often pressured to push themselves beyond their limits both physically and mentally, making them more likely to be tired, careless or simply put themselves in a dangerous situation.
According to the CDC, the most common types of job injuries in 2013 were:
- Lifting/carrying/pushing/pulling injuries
- Slipping or tripping over equipment, tools, or spills
- Falling from height
- Getting struck by a flying or falling object
- Burns, bad posture, carpal tunnel
- Poor ventilation of fumes and chemicals
- Amputation of a body part
- Stress and anxiety
- Driving accidents in work automobiles
In the United States, there are reportedly 150 job-related deaths per day. Among the most dangerous jobs are fields that involve construction work, transportation of goods, mining, farming and fishing; unsurprisingly, all of these roles involve manual labor.
Sometimes injuries are not from actually working, but by poor building maintenance. Electrical wiring, nails that are not hammered down, wobbly steps, leaky plumbing in restrooms, mold that has been ignored, boxes in pathways that need to be unpacked, company vehicles without routine maintenance, bad lighting and more.
Aside from injuries, there can be long-term effects of hazards on the job. Just inhaling and being exposed to certain chemicals can lead to cancer, birth defects in pregnant workers, blindness, skin problems and many other disorders.
Ways to prevent most job-related injuries are:
- Eyes should be properly guarded with goggles or sturdy substitutes
- Cover floors with non-skid mats to prevent slips
- Pathways should not be obscured with miscellaneous items; all cords should be taped down to thwart potential tangles
- Always double check that ladders are on even, sturdy ground
- Report and wipe up spills immediately
- Never operate machinery when mentally compromised, whether it be due to lack of sleep or medications
- Don footwear with topnotch traction, especially if operating in a questionable environment
- Lift from the knees and ask for help when needed – this can help you to avoid back injuries
- When working with potentially harmful toxins, try to have as much fresh air as possible circulate
- Wear a hard helmet
- If you’re position requires a lot of sitting, make sure that your body is ideally positioned to avoid slouching or cramped feelings. Additionally, occasionally go for walks to encourage proper circulation to legs
- Make sure you are mindful of the elements, including dressing properly for the heat or cold
If you are left with a long-term injury, you may have to find a new career. You may just need time off for recovery before going back to your job. This can be a financial strain on the family. It is a law that an injured worker gets paid for time lost from work or not being able to return to his/her career.
No matter the level of preparation you take to avoid accidents, there are no guarantees. If you do acquire an injury that renders you unable to work, inquire about obtaining social security benefits for your disability.