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How to prevent niggling workplace injuries that cost time

By: Grant King, IndustrySearch Writer
04 February, 2016

We all hear about the workplace tragedies that make the papers and take a huge toll on families and employers alike.

These are the public face of workplace safety gone wrong with their heartbreaking stories of personal and financial loss. And they are the major focus when it comes to risk management, as they should be. The only trouble is that many employers put all their safety eggs in the 'high risk' basket and forget about all the little niggling injuries that cost a day's work here, a comp claim there, and eat away unnecessary time and money. So here are a few ways to identify all those less dramatic site hazards and minimise their long term impact.

RSI repeats

And no, RSI isn’t a leagues club; it's a debilitating injury that creeps up over time through repetitive movement such as typing or lifting. Repetitive strain injury (RSI) is also known as occupational overuse syndrome, and it is what it suggests; the prolonged overuse of muscles and joints, often through incorrect technique or equipment. RSI affects the tendons and muscles in the wrists, elbows, neck, shoulders and back. Early signs are localised pain and muscle weakness, swelling, numbness and limited movement. Things tend to deteriorate rapidly from there and once RSI sets in, the only way to get rid of it is through rest. And that means downtime.

Stop RSI before it starts

Give your office workers ergonomic chairs to improve posture and make sure their desks and seats are set up exactly right for their height and reach. Insist that they take regular breaks and do hand stretching exercises. If you have warehouse or factory workers doing repetitive lifting, teach them correct techniques. Better still, take the lifting right out of their hands with some carefully selected materials handling equipment. Conveyors, scissor platforms, trolleys and carts move stock up, down and around with far less bending and stretching.

Minimise movement

Aside from RSIs, niggling workplace injuries often occur simply because you give them time to. Fast moving stock that could, and should, be close to packing areas and production lines is a two minute walk away. Or anything else your employees use often is an unnecessary bend or stretch away on a low or high shelf when it should be at waist height. Little things like this might seem like nothing, but they're everything when it comes to managing the risks of minor, yet highly aggravating injuries. 

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