Thousands of Australians are injured every year at their workplace. Whether you work on a construction site, a warehouse or in an office - injuries can and do happen. Here are some of the most common workplace injuries and how to avoid them.
Sprains and strains
Sprains and strains are the leading type of workplace injury and can be easily avoided. Just a small sprain can put you out of work for several weeks. Your workplace should be safe for you to work in and not have any hazards that may cause you to trip.
As well as staying alert and reporting any uneven surfaces or blocked pathways, there are other steps you can take to avoid sprains and strains. Never run in the workplace - nothing should be so important that you need to risk your safety. Whenever you are moving around, be aware of your surroundings and report any hazards to your supervisor.
Another very common workplace injury is caused by overexertion. This can include too much heavy lifting if you do manual work or wrist injuries such as Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) if you work at a computer.
Doing any type of movement repeatedly can cause overexertion injuries so it’s important that you are aware of the risks. If you spend a lot of time at a computer, ensure that you have your desk set up ergonomically - including wrist supports. Your employer should provide this for you.
If you do a lot of manual work, make sure you fully understand and use correct lifting procedures to avoid injury. Overexertion injuries do not happen straight away - they creep on you slowly - so be aware of the risks before an injury occurs.
Struck by an object
Whether it’s a book from a shelf in an office or metal shards in a workshop - being struck by an object big or small is a very real possibility when you are in the workplace.
If you are working in an environment where there are dangerous objects or objects at a height, always wear personal protective gear. This may include a hard hat or safety glasses, depending on the nature of the work.
No matter where you work, in the office, at home, or on a construction site you should pay attention to where you place objects. In an office, for example, never store a small box on top of a large box above head height as someone could pull out the lower box and be injured by the small box that they couldn’t see.
Heavy items should always be stored on a low shelf, with lighter ones at the top.
Fall from height
Many workplace injuries occur because of a fall from height. Anyone who is expected to work at an elevated height should receive training on how to do so safely. You don’t need to be very high up for a fall to cause serious injury.
If you don’t normally work at height - for example, you work in an office and want to get something off a high shelf - never do so without assessing the situation. You’re always best off speaking to your supervisor about the safest way to work at heights.