Safety starts with the individual and all employees, through thoughts and actions, can make a difference and reduce harm
To improve safety practices and make workplaces safer for all employees, Chandler Macleod will be releasing a quarterly Safe and Healthy Workplace Focus on an issue that may affect you, a colleague, family or friends.
Summer Health Risks
Summer is a busy time of year for many of us, with Christmas and New Year celebrations and an increase in parties, family gatherings, and outdoor recreation activities. However, there are an increased number of health risks during the summer months which can result in injury, hospitalisation or even death. By being risk aware, you can create happy holiday memories this summer and avoid accident and injury.
During the winter months, working closely with others can increase the risk of spreading germs. It only takes one sick person to pass the flu on to many others and increase workload pressures. Good personal hygiene is one of the most effective ways to protect ourselves, and others, from illness. That’s why it’s important to demonstrate good hygiene practices, especially in shared areas, to prevent the spread of illness in the workplace.
Warm Up To Work - Stretching
Stretching your muscles helps to improve your range of motion and prepares your muscles for physical work. Warming up soft tissue before starting physical work has both immediate and longer term benefits and can help to prevent workplace injuries. During the colder months the risk of soft tissue injury to industrial employees increases, making stretching before work even more important.
Ergonomic injuries impact all types of workers from office employees to people working on building sites and are caused by performing the same motion over and over, staying in one position too long, or working in awkward positions.
Hand injuries typically involve the fingers and range from relatively minor incidents such as open wounds to more severe and life-changing injuries such as amputation. Every year in Australia, approximately 8,400 people are admitted to hospital emergency departments with hand or wrist injuries, making these one of the most common work-related injuries.
Falls From Ladders
Falls from ladders are very common and can result in serious injury or death, however most ladder falls are entirely preventable. On average, 5 Australians – mainly men – die every year falling from ladders, with another 1,600 being admitted to hospital with serious injuries.
Most people have knocked their elbow or ‘funny bone’ at some point in time, causing intense pain and numbness up and down the arm, but thankfully the pain subsides quickly. Chronic elbow pain is ongoing and a result of repeated pressure on the muscles and tendons near the elbow joint which can cause the tendons to become inflamed.
Shoulder injuries are among the most common musculoskeletal disorders seen by Australian GPs, with approximately 13% of all shoulder problems considered work-related. Many shoulder injuries are caused by lifting heavy objects, tripping or slipping over or by bumping heavily into a solid object.
Noise exposure is the most common preventable cause of occupational hearing loss and occurs as a result of exposure to loud noise over an extended period of time. Whilst noise induced hearing loss is entirely preventable, once acquired it is irreversible. In Australia, occupational hearing loss is a significant health and economic problem. Every year, an estimated 1 million employees are potentially exposed to hazardous levels of noise at work.
Every year in Australia, approximately 8,400 people are admitted to hospital emergency departments with hand or wrist injuries, making these one of the most common work-related injuries. Hand injuries are most prevalent in the manufacturing industry, wholesale and retail trade industry, and the construction industry due to the activities undertaken and equipment used.
Ergonomics is the process of designing or arranging workplaces, products and systems so that they fit the people who use them. In simple terms, it’s about making things comfortable and efficient to optimise an individual’s safety, well-being and performance at work.
Horseplay & Practical Jokes in the Workplace
Every year people are injured during horseplay. Whilst injury risks are greater in industrial workplaces, the office can still be hazardous when employees play practical jokes.
Horseplay is often regarded as a friendly, physical way to let off steam, but this type of fooling around on the job is dangerous for a number of reasons. At the very least, when an employee is playing pranks and joking around their attention is elsewhere and they’re not focused on the job at hand. Directing horseplay at others and distracting them from the job they are performing is even more dangerous - it creates an unsafe working environment where injuries can occur.
Over the past 12 years, falls from ladders have claimed 276 lives in Australia, with many more serious life-changing injuries not publicised. Whilst the number of falls from ladders in the workplace remain stable, falls from ladders at home are on the increase, which is cause for concern.
Who can forget Molly Meldrum’s much-publicised fall from a ladder in the backyard of his Melbourne home just prior to Christmas 2011? Molly received life-threatening head and spinal injuries, broken bones and a punctured lung. Thankfully he recovered enough by April 2012 to resume his career interviewing popular music icons.
Protect Yourself from Heat Exposure
Heat stress is Australia’s number one natural killer, accounting for the deaths of more people than floods, cyclones, bushfires and storms combined. It’s a situation that researchers warn is likely to become worse as the climate changes.
Since the 1900s, 27 January (the day after Australia Day) stands out as the date with the most heat related deaths. It’s believed that whilst celebrating the public holiday with barbeques and picnics outdoors, many people are also subjected to a significant amount of heat exposure and dehydration, which is exacerbated by consumption of alcohol.
Drink, Drive and Play Responsibly this Holiday Season
Christmas and New Year is a time of celebration with an increase in summer festivities, parties, family gatherings, and outdoor recreation activities. It can also be a time when people take unnecessary risks with their health and put themselves and those around them in danger.
We ask you to stop for a moment and think about the possible consequences of your actions BEFORE you drink excessively, or take unnecessary risks when driving or participating in recreational and social activities. By being risk aware, you can create happy holiday memories this summer and avoid accident and injury.
Distraction and Fatigue in Industrial Workplaces
The risk of injury in industrial workplaces increases during the build up to the Christmas period, when impending closures over the holidays leads to compression of workloads in the months before.
In the food processing and warehouse/logistics industries, there is additional pressure on daily production and distribution schedules as demand for fresh and processed foods, and beverages skyrockets. Rushing, distraction and fatigue are common risks at this time.
Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun can cause skin damage including sunburn, blistering, skin ageing and in the long term can lead to skin cancer. Outdoor workers in Australia receive five to 10 times more sun exposure than indoor workers, placing them at an increased risk of skin damage and skin cancer.
Australia has one of the highest skin cancer incidence rates in the world, 2-3 times the rates in Canada, the US and the UK. More than 400,000 Australians are treated for skin cancer every year – that’s over 1,000 people each day.
Sitting behind a desk, commuting or relaxing on the couch for extended periods of time can be harmful to your health. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 60 to 85% of the world’s population does not engage in enough activity, therefore leading a sedentary lifestyle.
Numerous research studies have shown that the rates of heart disease, diabetes and obesity are doubled in people who are physically inactive and that living a sedentary lifestyle also increases your risk of other health problems including high blood pressure, osteoporosis, certain cancers, depression and anxiety.
Road Safety in the Workplace
Recently, a Chandler Macleod employee and four workmates were lucky to avoid serious injury after the driver of the car lost control and crashed into a pole while travelling between work sites.
For many of us, driving is a routine daily activity and we give little thought to the risks every time we get behind the wheel or ride as a passenger. It is a sad fact that it takes a collision before the risks of life changing injury become reality.
At Chandler Macleod we are committed to improving safety practices and making workplaces safer for all employees. For further advice on minimising your risk of injury in the workplace please contact your local Chandler Macleod branch.