Preventing workplace back injuries

Back injuries can be debilitating for employees and costly for companies – so what are the best ways to counter and prevent them?

Back injury safety is relevant in a wide variety of industries.

Back injury safety is relevant in a wide variety of industries.

A back injury in the workplace can be a life-altering event for a worker. No company wants to see its employees suffer these kinds of serious problems, especially if it’s clear that they could have been prevented with a little more preparation or knowledge. Training offers employees the know-how to prevent back injuries with safe work practices. At MasteryTCN, we find courses on back safety among our most popular offerings.

Prominence of back injuries across all industries

When back injuries strike, they can take workers away from their duties, leading to a loss of productivity at the businesses that employ them. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2015 data, the most recent available, over the course of 2015 there were 191,450 nonfatal employee back injuries serious enough to make workers miss time at their jobs. That is a significant fraction of the 1,153,490 such injuries logged in total.

The median number of days missed for a back injury in 2015 came in at seven, but there were a significant number of cases where workers were out for far longer. A total of 50,910 back injuries caused professionals to miss 31 or more days of work. Between lost productivity and potential worker’s compensation, it’s clear how such a serious problem could hurt a company – and that’s to say nothing of the intense physical pain these ailments can cause the people who suffer them.

OSHA’s take on back health

What does the Occupational Safety and Health Association have to say about keeping back injuries out of the workplace? OSHA prefaces its rules on preventing these problems by warning industry leaders to take them seriously. Because back problems typically cannot kill people the way workplace falls or fires can, they can go overlooked. However, between one-off injuries and issues that accumulate over the course of years, these disorders can cause long-term pain and make their sufferers unable to work for long periods of time.

The main elimination and prevention steps invoked by OSHA involve changing practices and tasks to ensure risk factors don’t exist. This is the preferred method of back issue mitigation: If companies can change their workplaces and ensure heavy or repetitive lifting motions aren’t necessary, they can seriously reduce the chances of their workers hurting themselves. This kind of preparation has to do with planners and supervisors rather than the employees performing manual work.

Back injuries can cause a lot of pain over a long time.Back injuries can cause a lot of pain over a long time.

Training and preparation ideas

When it comes to training and preparation to reduce the risk of a back injury, OSHA specifies a few areas to focus on: Companies can prepare their workers by teaching them how to recognize and avoid danger, as well as what to do when they encounter these situations.

In some cases, when it’s impossible for employees to avoid heavy lifting in a daily workload, they can rotate employees between activities that use certain back muscles and other tasks. Furthermore, when a supervisor can have two people perform a single back-intensive task together, it can reduce the risk of either one of them suffering an injury working on the job alone.

On the subject of protective equipment such as support belts, it’s up to companies to make their own policies. As OSHA clarified in a letter to employers, the agency neither endorses nor forbids the use of back belts, and underlined the point that it cannot officially endorse the items as effective methods of injury prevention. By personal preference, some employees may be interested in using this kind of equipment.

Courses available

“Good practices when working with heavy objects are relevant in many different industries.”

Employers have a range of training methods that will help inform employees of the best safety protocols for their particular responsibilities. For example, some courses are solely focused on lifting. Good practices when working with heavy objects that have to be lifted and carried are relevant in many different industries, whenever a workplace can’t be redesigned to remove this activity.

Other courses can focus on exercise protocols that will keep bodies strong and prepare employees to avoid potential problems, or expand beyond the back to include neck safety and protection. Still more offerings focus on specific procedures to be followed in the construction industry. On a job site, there may be many heavy loads to carry, and no way to cut this responsibility out of day-to-day operations.

Leaders can inspect the variety of courses available and decide on the ones that best protect their workers from danger. The risk of long-term harm that comes with back injuries is too great to ignore, and these educational materials are highly relevant to workplaces that are prone to the related risks.


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Soft skills: A modern workplace must

Employees with strong soft skills are leading the charge into a new age of communication-driven business.

Effective communicators improve their teams and their organizations as a whole.

Effective communicators improve their teams and their organizations as a whole.

No job today can be performed optimally without soft skills, the abilities that go beyond raw information and involve emotional intelligence and communication aptitude. The increasing focus on these interpersonal competencies should be reflected in the way companies hire, onboard and train their employees. Operating a business on the basis of these kinds of intelligence may enable organizations to strengthen the bonds that hold their teams together.

Even with modern technology at employees’ fingertips and solutions that mean they can contact one another at will, infrastructure is no substitute for great communication. People who can relate to others and express themselves clearly are valued contributors to both internal projects and external messaging. One of the most exciting things about soft skills is that they are relevant in every conceivable department. The following are a few of the ways these abilities are proving useful. Continue reading

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Creating a fall-free workplace

There are a host of different fall prevention training options, divided up by the type of workplace affected.

Fall prevention is varied and essential.

Fall prevention is varied and essential.

The danger of a slip, trip or fall is something that workplaces of all kinds must minimize – but the ways in which this occurs may differ heavily from one environment to the next. The risk factors that can lead workers into danger include everything from wet floors in break rooms to high catwalks on factory floors, and all must be safeguarded in line with OSHA regulations.

Falls proved to be the second-most-common form of fatal occupational injury in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent data release, for 2015. Coming in behind only transportation incidents, falling accounted for 800 deaths. Most of the number involved someone falling from a high place to a lower level but a significant amount, 152 fatalities, resulted from other kinds of slipping, tripping or falling. Falls caused more deaths than harmful substances, equipment or violence in the workplace, and more than six times as many fatalities as fires and explosions combined. Continue reading

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Take a serious look at workplace fire safety

Fire safety is a well-known branch of workplace training. But are companies really ready to face an incident?

Workplaces should be prepared to deal with the risk of fire.

Workplaces should be prepared to deal with the risk of fire.

Fire – it’s about as well-known as a workplace risk can be. That said, it’s important not to take fire safety for granted. Preventing fires and creating a safe work environment demands involvement from many different levels of an organization. Workers need to know how to keep themselves safe in case of an incident, and leaders need to ensure they are aware of – and working to correct – any risks their facilities may pose.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2015 report on fatal injuries in the workplace, the most recent edition available, revealed 121 people died in fires and explosions. This is significantly lower than categories such as transportation accidents or falls, and encouragingly down 16 from 2014. However, the loss of those 121 employees should be taken seriously when company leaders ask themselves whether they’ve adequately protected their own workforce. Continue reading

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Electrical hazards: Keeping employees safe

Electrical hazards, present in a host of industries, claim many lives each year – they’re worth guarding against.

Electricity risks are omnipresent in all kinds of workplaces.

Electricity risks are omnipresent in all kinds of workplaces.

Electrical hazards are one of the most universally relevant dangers to warn employees about because they are so ubiquitous. It’s hard to think of an industry without electrical equipment, and whether or not power generation is a company’s prime business, it pays for leaders to assess potential dangers. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offers guidance on keeping the workforce safe from exposure to dangerous current, and it will likely take a mixture of good risk management, appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and relevant training to safeguard employees.

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