Every day, nearly 13,000 Americans are injured on the job. The more startling fact is that all these injuries are preventable. Workplace safety is a main point of focus for the Nation Safety Council, and not just during National Safety Month in June. Businesses and employees must be aware of potential safety hazards all twelve months of the year.
Workplace safety involves a vast number of concerns. Some of the more commons are hazardous chemicals, drug use in the workplace, and slips and falls. Of course, I can’t cover all safety topics here, so I’m going to take a brief look at three that the Safety Council and other organizations have chosen as priorities this year.
Things like toxic chemicals and boxes blocking exits are obvious safety hazards, but we might not think of fatigue as a safety risk. One thing you’ve got to realize is that fatigue is more than just being tired. Fatigue is a whole-body weariness that includes feeling tired, but also feeling reduced energy and needing to put more effort into doing everyday tasks at the level you desire.
The truth is people who feel this way let down their guard, and their safety performance decreases, so does their job performance. It’s estimated that fatigued workers cost employers $136 billion annually in health-related lost productivity.
Eating right, exercising and getting an appropriate amount of sleep can all help ward off fatigue. According to the National Safety Council, adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each day to reach peak performance at work. However, 30 percent of workers report averaging less than six hours. It’s time to get some sleep and be safer at work, and everywhere else.
Here’s another interesting fact from the National Safety Council. They say two million American workers report being victims of workplace violence every year. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics says that in 2014, 409 people were fatally injured in attacks at work, about 16 percent of the total workplace deaths that year.
Here are some more recent statistics. A 2016 publication reported that workplace violence and deaths occurred in most every type of occupation, even ones you wouldn’t suspect. They noted that there were 4,460 injuries and 65 deaths in professional and business services. Who’da thunk it!
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health divides workplace violence into four categories: criminal intent, customer/client, worker-on-worker and personal relationship. Women are most often the victims of personal relationship violence at work. Of course, there’s the active shooter situation. That would fall under the criminal intent category.
There are a few steps employers and businesses can take to help curb and prevent violence on the job. First of all, they need to create a violence prevention plan and make it an essential part of their strategic health and safety plan.
A few things they can include in their plans are making sure the workplace is secure and their employees know whom to call in an emergency, doing background checks on new employees and providing active shooter training. There are other suggestions in this article.
It’s likely the next workplace hazard plays a role in both fatigue and violence. It’s work-related stress. Research has found that 45 percent of lost work days are due to stress, anxiety or depression. That comes out to 11.7 million days. What’s more, the cost of lost productivity due to a stressful work environment is staggering. It totals $500 billion annually.
An in-depth survey done in 2017 by Mental Health America noted that overstressed people add to unhappiness in the workplace, which has an indirect effect on everyone else. That means that stressed-out people who dread coming to work contribute to productivity losses. Those losses are often not reflected in the calculated numbers, so that annual cost figure could actually be higher.
We know stress affects us emotionally. It can lead to disorders such as anxiety and depression. But stress has a negative effect on us physically as well. According to the American Institute of Stress, there are few diseases in which stress doesn’t play an aggravating role. Some of the conditions linked to stress are heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure and an increased susceptibility to infections. To learn more about the symptoms and effects of stress, read this.
Reducing stress at work can be challenging, but it’s important for your mental and physical health. There are many articles on the net with helpful tips, and this is one of them. Among the tips in is this article are: try medication and contemplation, balance your work and professional lives, learn to say “no,” and write down and remember the things that you’re grateful for.
There’s so much more to know about workplace safety, but your best bet is to be aware. Know your surroundings, take the proper precautions and always be safety-conscious.