Many organizations pay scant attention to safety because they are not an industrial company. Unfortunately they can pay a steep price because of this lack of attention.
A recent study released by the Liberty Mutual Research Institute showed that many of the leading accidents that cause disabling injuries are not necessarily industrial related. In fact the leading and most expensive were accidents caused by trying to move or push around heavy objects. In one company I did some business with two very costly accidents occurred when employees tried to move heavy boxes of paperwork while seated in their chairs. The strained backs resulted in heavy lost time and costly medical bills. Liberty Mutual calculates that this type of injury costs American business over $15 billion per year. The second most common injury is from slipping or tripping, easily as likely to occur in an office as an industrial situation. That costs businesses $10 billion per year.
The other injuries that could be considered to be nonindustrial accidents include:
- Injuries that occur when you slip but don’t fall. Strains and pains from catching yourself. Cost: $2.4 billion
- Injuries that occur while trying to avoid injury. Cost: $4.2 billion
- Repetitive motion injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome from poor keyboard set up and poor ergonomics. Cost: $1.8 billion
As you can see these are very expensive injuries that can occur in almost any situation. I have even seen amputations in office situations caused by the improper use of a paper cutter. (Guards are put on those machines for a reason.)
Just because you are in an exempted industry
There is a long list of industries that are exempt from posting OSHA paperwork, but that does not mean that these companies are immune to injury incidents. People can still strain themselves, slip and fall, or overexert themselves in an office as easily as on a factory floor, perhaps more easily because they haven’t had any awareness training.
So the next time you have a fire drill take a few extra minutes to remind employees of proper lifting and the importance of good housekeeping. It may save everyone from a great deal of pain and suffering.
Thanks to Philip Bareck for the heads up on the Liberty Mutual study.