We’ve calculated the most frequent causes of workplace injuries and it’s clear that being “struck by” a tool or object is by far the biggest risk in your workplace. This week, we focus on this huge cause of workers’ comp claims and steps we can all take to reduce the risk.
The simple mistake of a worker losing his/her grip on a hand tool causes more injuries than any other workplace hazard. Nearly one in 10 injuries are caused by a slipping handheld object. When we look at all types of “struck by” injuries, which includes falling and stationary objects, the numbers more than double to 25 percent. That means one out of every four workplace injuries happen when a worker hits, or is hit by, something around them.
Reducing the risk
The best way to prevent these types of accidents is to manage tools properly, according to Holly Markee, safety manager at Approach. “When a tool is in use, it should only be operated by employees who have been properly trained to use that tool,” says Markee, “and when it’s not in use, it goes back to storage in a location where it doesn’t cause a hazard.”
The risk from falling objects can be reduced through the use of toe boards — simple 2x4s placed along the edge of upper levels. “Toe boards are part of fall protection for workers, but they can also protect workers below by keeping dropped tools from rolling off the upper level,” says Markee.
One reason these injuries are so prevalent is that they are often the result of simple mistakes. A moment of inattention on a busy job site or in a fast-moving warehouse is all it takes.
So, remember these best practices for safety and PPE:
- Hazard analysis– carefully walk your working area and note any hazards that exist. What steps will you take as a result?
- Site safety analysis– what other work is being performed in the area? What steps must be taken so everyone can work safely together (without danger of one worker being struck by another’s tools or equipment)?
- Gloves – with 10 percent of workplace injuries caused by slipping tools, gloves are the best protection against many types of injury. But, remember that gloves can cause fatigue or reduced grip as well.
- Additional PPE – What other equipment or apparel (hard hats, safety goggles) will prevent workers from injured by objects, particularly falling objects?
These steps must be repeated each time a new job site is opened and weekly for existing job sites. Remember to also train workers whenever new or modified tools are introduced.
Approach offers frequent safety training programs, along with free annual safety visits for our clients. Learn more at www.pitb.wpengine.com/safety.