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The Unseen Hazards of “Low-Hazard” Industries

June 16, 2020
September 30, 2020
Published 
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OSHA defines a low-hazard industry as having an “injury and illness rate less than the national private-industry average of 1.6 per 100 full-time workers.” Work-related injuries can occur in any field, even those that are considered to be low-hazard industries. There are thousands of workplace accidents reported annually and some of these injuries are serious. 

Even though it’s generally impossible for companies to prevent all office-related injuries, businesses still need to take steps to make the work environment as safe as possible for all employees. Here are some of the commonly reported work-related injuries and steps companies can take to help prevent them. 



Top Office Work-Related Injuries

Low-hazard industries can still be responsible for injuries and accidents, even when both employees and management are careful to take workplace safety seriously. 


Slips and Falls


Whether you’re working in a warehouse or behind a desk, there’s always the possibility of an accidental trip, slip or fall. Floors can be wet from mopping or the weather. Warning signs should always be placed for easy visibility when the floors are slippery. Appropriate non-skid floor mats should also be used.

Employees and delivery personnel will also want to make sure packages aren’t left out where others could trip over them. Warehouse and factory workers might find themselves working from ladders or scaffolding. Employees should be well-trained and alert to prevent falls that could result in serious injuries. 


Muscle and Repetitive Strains


Lifting boxes and other heavy items as part of your job can result in muscle strains, especially in the back and neck. Management can help prevent these and other types of muscle strain by training employees on proper lifting techniques. A short class or handing out pamphlets that demonstrate proper techniques for lifting heavy objects is sometimes all it takes to help prevent this type of office work-related injury. 

Repetitive strain injuries (RSI) are becoming more common at work, even for office employees.This is also known as Cumulative Trauma Disorder (CTD)  Unfortunately, not all employers are taking these types of injuries seriously. Repetitive motions can strain joints and muscles over time. Some examples of employees that might be at risk for this injury include assembly line, maintenance and hospitality workers, and those doing computer work. 

Ensuring that employees get regular breaks to stretch and loosen tight muscles and tendons can help reduce the number of muscle strain complaints companies get from their workers. 


Falling Objects


Items do occasionally fall off of shelves or cupboards. It’s not only warehouse employees that have to be aware of potentially falling objects, but the break room can be just as hazardous. Companies will want to provide employee break areas with plenty of storage. This will help prevent heavy or breakable items from falling out of cupboards or off shelves. 

Employees should also be trained on how to properly store boxes and other items in the office, warehouse, or storage room. It will go a long way towards preventing workplace injuries. 


Loud Noise Exposure


In some low-hazard industries, loud noise is a problem. It can be anything from machinery, equipment, or a co-worker’s radio. Industrial deafness is a problem for workers and can cost the company money in disability payments later on. Providing ear protection for all employees will go a long way towards preventing work-related hearing loss. The cost of the ear protection is far less costly than paying disability claims on multiple employees. 


Toxic Fumes


Inhaling fumes is not only a problem at industrial job sites, but it can also be an issue at low-hazard workplaces. Inhaling toxic fumes is usually the result of working around hazardous chemicals, though this isn’t the only way they can occur. Improperly mixing office or breakroom cleaning supplies can also create toxic fumes. 

Employers need to supply safety goggles and other types of protective gear for their employees that work around hazardous chemicals. Proper training also needs to be in place to prevent accidental mixtures of cleaning agents that could produce toxic fumes. 


Employee Altercations


Not everyone within a team will always get along. This can sometimes result in fights at work. Stress and unresolved tension can also erupt into employee disagreements. Fights, whether physical or verbal, will disrupt the workplace. Operations will be disrupted and this can affect the company’s bottom line. 

Injuries aside, employee altercations can lead to loss of valuable workers. Management won’t be able to prevent all employee altercations but should have protocols in place that dictate how to handle these problems. Classes can also help employees learn how to manage workplace stress and appropriate ways to deal with it. 

Companies that have “safe” places for employees to go and discuss their problems with co-workers also tend to see fewer altercations between their workers. The goal for management is to teach employees how to constructively handle friction in the workplace. 


Preparation is Key

There are hazards in low-hazard industries but there are ways you can minimize them. Protecting employees at work should be a primary concern for businesses.  Injuries can be expensive, but with the right training and safety measures, many can be prevented. 

Work-Fit is a dedicated team of wellness professionals who apply sports therapy techniques to workplaces with a variety of services for all industries. To start implementing safety protocols at work and protecting your workers, even in a low-hazard industry, contact the team at Work-Fit today.


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