Occupational Nurses Offer Tips for Improving Workplace Safety

The American Association of Occupational Health Nurses offers tips to help reduce the risk of injury, in light of a recent poll the group conducted that determined the top five on-the-job injury categories.

The American Association of Occupational Health Nurses (AAOHN) recently polled more than 1,000 occupational health nurses, whose role it is to provide on-the-job health care services and solutions to prevent workplace injuries, to determine the top five on-the-job injury categories.

The nurses identified these five categories:

  • 1. musculoskeletal injuries
  • 2. stress-related illnesses
  • 3. slips, trips and falls
  • 4. getting hit by an object
  • 5. illness related to chemical exposure.

"Accidents and injuries cost employers billions of dollars a year. These costs come in the form of property damage, lost worker productivity, lowered morale, workers'' compensation costs, and even lawsuits. Injuries can happen anywhere, but work should not be hazardous to employee health and safety," said Deborah DiBenedetto, AAOHN president. We know that investment in health and safety is proven to dramatically reduce these costs. It is the responsibility of the employer and employee to take steps to prevent injuries and illnesses and keep our workers as safe as possible."

"The key to reducing workplace injuries is education and cultivating a workplace culture committed to health and safety. We need to educate employers and employees about ways to improve workplace health and safety," she continued.

AAOHN has the following tips for employers and employees to help reduce the risk of injury on the job:

Employers are encouraged to:

  • Have office safety policies and important names and numbers (i.e. fire and rescue, police, building manager) posted on company Intranets and in high-traffic areas like a kitchen or supply room. Make sure emergency medical equipment and fire extinguishers are strategically well placed and properly maintained.
  • Talk to employees about what to do or who to call in the case of a work-related illness or emergency.
  • Survey the work environment(s) constantly to look for potential safety hazards (i.e. exposed wiring, damaged flooring).
  • Consult a licensed occupational health care provider to help determine and manage the most appropriate health and safety programs for your company''s needs.
  • Prevent ergonomic injuries such as carpal tunnel and back pain by providing employees with comprehensive ergonomic education and training that is supported by proper desk, chair and computer equipment.

Employees are encouraged to:

  • Know their rights regarding acceptable work conditions and workers'' compensation process. Do not engage in unsafe practices.
  • Identify and report potential safety hazards to their employer.
  • Know how to safely and correctly use all office equipment, especially heavy electrical machinery.
  • Know location of emergency equipment (i.e. first aid kit, fire extinguisher, defibrillator) and how to use them.
  • Talk to their employers about work safety concerns, hazards, and violations such as guards on equipment, exposed wires, emergency exits and stairs, fire doors, electrical hazards and high voltage.
  • Immediately report work-related accidents and injuries.

by Virginia Foran

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