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Responding to Workplace Injuries

Posted 2/2/2018 by UHBlog

Although your company takes proper safety precautions to prevent workplace injuries, accidents sometimes still occur. Talk to us about how to respond to and prevent employees getting hurt.

Cover page of a safety manual

Around 100,000 workplace injury and illness claims are filed every year with the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation. When a worker is injured or becomes ill, prompt and proper treatment should be an employer’s highest priority, says occupational medicine specialist Mundeep Chaudhry, MD.

“The first step is to evaluate the seriousness of the injury,” Dr. Chaudhry says. “Depending on the injury, people usually know whether medical attention is necessary, but it’s a good idea for somebody in the shop or office to have first-aid training. In higher-risk settings, like a manufacturing facility, the establishment of a trained emergency response team is a good idea. Team members should be trained to evaluate the severity of injuries and how to do procedures like chest compressions while waiting for medical professionals to arrive.”

Common Workplace Injuries

The risk and types of workplace injuries that are likely to occur vary depending to the industry and location. For instance, the two most common injuries in an office environment are carpal tunnel syndrome, which develops over time, and injuries that result from a trip or fall.

“Carpal tunnel is a common condition for people who are sitting at a desk using a computer all day,” he says. “A doctor can evaluate carpal tunnel symptoms and recommend appropriate treatments.”

Falls usually happen when a box or another item is improperly stored in a walkway.

In a factory setting, where tasks are likely to be more physically demanding and where heavy equipment is being used, the risk of more severe injuries is higher.

“The most common injuries in a manufacturing setting tend to be sprains and strains of the back, neck, shoulders and elbows,” Dr. Chaudhry says. “If there is grinding going on, there is a risk of flying debris that can get into somebody’s eyes if they are not protected.”

Documenting and Reporting a Workplace Injury

Whatever the injury, accurate documentation of the injury is important – for the benefit of the worker and the employer. It's also usually required for reporting to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

OSHA says tracking and investigating workplace injuries and illnesses play an important role in preventing future injuries and illnesses. Under OSHA’s record-keeping regulations, certain covered employers – usually those with more than 10 employees – in high-hazard industries are required to prepare and maintain records of serious occupational injuries and illnesses.

Maintaining accurate internal records of accidents and injuries are essential in case of injury-related litigation down the road, too.

“Management should encourage employees to report any injury they incur,” Dr. Chaudhry says.

Injury Prevention

In order to prevent workplace accidents and injuries, companies should invest in proper training and equipment to help substantially reduce employees’ risks, Dr. Chaudhry says.

“Ergonomics are very important in making sure employees are doing their work in a safe way,” he says. “Ergonomics can include anything from adjusting the height of an office chair to help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, to using proper lifting techniques when moving heavy objects in a factory. Lifting the wrong way or pushing things around while bent forward are back injuries waiting to happen. Having proper lifting and moving equipment available, like hand trucks, can help to reduce back injuries.”

To learn more about University Hospitals’ occupational health and safety services, connect with University Hospitals Employer Solutions for more information.

Mundeep Chaudhry, MD is an occupational medicine specialist for University Hospitals Occupational Health. You can request an appointment with Dr. Chaudhry or any other doctor online.

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