News & Views

24th September 2019

Injuries at work, how you should avoid them

Across Australia, workplace absenteeism costs the economy more than $44 billion dollars annually. With the most common reason employees give for short-term absence being minor illness or injury.

 

Employment in the trades and services, where employees are expected to do manual labour, is likely to lead to a variety of musculoskeletal injuries. Not only are these injuries of financial detriment to the employer, as their workers would have to take a paid sick leave, but more importantly they prevent the employees from working, creating financial stress. In the case of a ligament sprain or muscle strain, this could leave an employee out of work for up to 4-6 weeks.

 

The Most Common Injuries Among Electricians

 

Given that electricians have labour intensive tasks, it is not uncommon that most employees have experienced a soft tissue injury at least once throughout their career. A study found that a high prevalence of electricians reported to have injury symptoms occurring more than 3 times in the past year, lasting for more than 1 week each time. This means that a large amount of employees were suffering for at least 21 days of the year, with only 10 of those days falling into paid sick leave.

 

The most common symptoms experienced by electricians are in the region of the back and hand/wrist, noted by approximately 50% of the population. Elbow symptoms were also reports, but in only 15% of the population.  Low back discomfort is a very common symptoms in young workers, and it has been shown to result in medical care, missed work, or light duty for almost 35% of employees. While neck discomfort is also very common and required doctor visits or work modification for almost 25% of the population.  Can these stats be displayed in a nice infographic style?

 

Why Might These Injuries Occur?

While it may seem obvious that musculoskeletal injuries may happen in a job that involves manual labor, the causes of a lot of these injuries could be preventable. A proper assessment of workplace safety and ergonomics could be very beneficial and easy to implement when it comes to injury prevention. Included in these methods are worksite set up and proper workplace posture when completing jobs.

 

While it may seem the responsibility of the employer to instill proper workplace ergonomics, it is just as important that the employee assess their own onsite posture, when completing a job. Injuries can often arise from repetitive work when the body is put in a compromising position.

 

 

Tips and Tricks to Help Avoid Injuries

 

While types of injuries may vary and some causes may be outside of the workplace, there are a few changes that can be made or added to daily life to help prevent occurrence of workplace injury.

 

● Make sure that you are working in an ergonomically correct position. For example, if you are doing overhead work try to avoid bending backward or looking up for long periods of time. Rather, bring yourself closer to the item that you are working on. If this is not possible then make sure you are taking regular breaks, to avoid straining muscles of the back, neck and/ or arms.

● Try to incorporate some physical exercise and other forms of self-care such as chiropractic care, physiotherapy, and functional movement and/ or massage therapy. Too often repetitive injuries can be prevented by implementing techniques that can be discussed with you by your healthcare provider.

 

Of course it is best to have your body assessed by a health care professional before you make any changes to your routine, or implement any new exercises to make sure they are right for you.  Similarly, if you are suffering or have suffered from injury or discomfort in the past, remember that without your health you cannot work, so take care of yourself and seek help from an expert!

 

When it comes to employee wellbeing, employers are starting to understand the link between workplace satisfaction and employee performance. Not only is this important from a health and wellness perspective, but it is also important that employers address these concerns from a safety perspective as well. A safe work environment will result in a lower risk of injury to employees and improve workplace morale.