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Loss Control Insights

Take Time to Control Overexertion Injuries

Safety managers tend to spend a majority of their time making sure their organizations are in compliance with OSHA standards. While this provides a good foundation for preventing injuries, it does not address one of the most common causes of workplace injuries: overexertion.

According to a study from the National Safety Council, overexertion is the third leading cause of injury in the United States. It costs employers $13.4 billion a year, making it one of the top three most costly and disabling work-related injuries in the United States. In addition, overexertion causes fatigue, which results in less productive employees, increased quality errors and more accidents.

Five Ways To Control Overexertion Injuries
Organizations can no longer have an, “If you want to work here, you better bring a strong back” attitude. Statistics show that overexertion injuries can happen to any worker, at any age and in any work situation. EMC policyholders are employing the following measures to successfully reduce the incidence and severity of overexertion injuries:

  1. Optimize storage practices. In many cases, overexertion injuries can be prevented by storing heavier, manually-lifted parts in the lifting “power zone” between the knees and the shoulders. A great first step for many organizations is to simply raise the storage height of heavier parts to waist level, where equipment can be slid directly onto a cart and pushed to the desired location.
  2. Use material-handling aids. Instead of repairing an injured employee’s back at an average cost of more than $30,000, spend that money on tools and equipment designed to minimize or eliminate manual handling, such as hoists, lift tables, conveyors, carts and dollies. You’ll wear out dozens of employees’ backs before you wear out a single, well-maintained hoist.
  3. Design for the neutral position. The body’s neutral posture places the least amount of stress on joints and muscles, allowing them to work more efficiently. The further away from the neutral posture that a person performs a physical task, the higher the risk of an overexertion injury. Reduce this risk by designing jobs and the workplace so that employees are only required to slightly bend or twist to complete their job.
  4. Enhance employee training. Instead of focusing on safe lifting techniques, train your employees to think before every lift by asking, “What would have to change so I didn’t have to lift and carry this at all?” Then, they can submit their ideas.
  5. Use accident investigation as a learning tool. Rather than telling employees to be more careful the next time they lift heavy objects, take time to investigate the root cause of each injury. Finding a permanent corrective action is much more effective than simply telling employees to be careful.

Controlling overexertion injuries goes beyond focusing on compliance alone and should be incorporated into all components of your injury management program, including prework screenings, your select provider network, return to work programs and promoting employee health and wellness. Remember, controlling overexertion injuries will help you control claim costs, improve productivity and provide a safer work environment for your employees.

Count on EMC® to help control overexertion injuries with these helpful resources: