Managing the Rise of Musculoskeletal Injuries in Winter

Falls, slips, and trips accounted for over 25% of the nation’s workplace injuries in 2010 and averaged 11 days in lost time, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. More than 60% of the falls, slips, or trips occurred on the same level resulting in an average of 10 days in lost time. Injuries from these accidents include musculoskeletal disorders, sprains, strains, tears, fractures, and soreness or pain that hundreds of thousands of employees experience each year. The results are a staggering amount of lost productivity, compensation and medical costs of roughly $70 billion annually, and experienced workers missing from 10 to 27 days on average.

With winter around the corner (in many areas, it has already arrived), it’s important to manage the additional risks associated with the colder weather, ice, and snow. We all know to keep walkways, stairs, ramps, and parking lots clear of ice and snow. Entrance ways should be salted (or its equivalent) sufficiently to remove any residual ice and snow. Standing water on factory and office floors should be mopped up immediately or cautioned to avoid slips. That’s all standard operating procedure at most businesses.

Snow Removal
OSHA also warns that workers engaged in snow removal may experience other safety hazards in addition to falls including:

  • Injuries associated with the use of snow blowers and other mechanized snow-removal equipment.
  • Rooftop falls during snow removal.
  • Injuries from falling snow and ice from eaves and rooftops.
  • Electrocution from contacting power lines or using damaged extension cords.
  • Frostbite and hypothermia.
  • Musculoskeletal injuries from overexertion.

For more tips on removing snow safely, check out Injury Free’s article, “Snowblower Injury Facts and Safety Tips.”

In order to manage the risk associated with winter trips, slips, and falls one must take a proactive approach. Because winter weather is normally only around for a few months, it can be easy to overlook its arrival until an incident occurs. With some injuries costing twenty, thirty, even forty thousand dollars a claim, it’s an expensive mistake to make, not to mention the pain and suffering of the injured party.

Once a musculoskeletal injury occurs, it can be difficult to remedy. And reoccurrence can happen at any time if it has not healed properly and the employee returns to work too soon. Employers that encounter musculoskeletal injuries due to ergonomic issues may want to learn more about the advantages of having an Employee Maintenance Center to monitor and heal their workers onsite. Contact InjuryFree for a free, no-obligation cost-benefit analysis for your facility.

http://memicsafety.typepad.com/memic_safety_blog/winter-safety/

http://ohsonline.com/Articles/2012/10/01/Plan-Ahead-to-Prevent-Slips-and-Falls.aspx