Setting the Scene for Injury Prevention
by Samuel Doctorian, MS, ATC
Pulled muscles are unpredictable and sometimes hard to prevent. Variables like body composition, type of work, underlying health conditions, and other uncontrollable factors contribute to them. However, with cuts and lacerations injuries, there are controllable and concrete strategies which are almost foolproof to keep you you PREPARED to prevent that kind of injury from happening. Cuts and lacerations aren’t just limited to abrasions and minor scratches but also puncture wounds that can penetrate deep into the skin (even to the tendon/nerve!). The Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported in 2019, that cuts or lacerations comprised 10% of workplace injuries (89,730 injuries out of 888,220 total). This number can easily be sliced with simple and practical strategies. Let’s set the scene at your worksite…
Before you begin work, (R) Review Your Hazards and (E) Evaluate Your Equipment we will be using throughout the day. And be thorough with your checks of tools and machinery, ensuring that:
– You use the proper tools for the particular task
– Blades to be used aren’t dull
– Replacing dull blades with sharp ones
– Electric drills aren’t jammed and have enough battery
– Ladders are secure with all legs touching the floor
– Harnesses have no rips and the buckles fasten securely
– Lifts are properly rising and lowering
– Area of work is clear of trip and slip hazards like puddles, cracks, wires/cords, as well as hanging objects.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is equipment worn to help minimize or eliminate exposure to certain hazards – including cuts and lacerations! These hazards can range from physical to chemical to electrical. Gloves, hard hats, and eyewear, are solid ways to protect from cuts and lacerations.
– Gloves: This is a no-brainer (or hander?). Almost 70% of cuts and laceration injuries are hand-related. Wear cut-resistant or heavy duty gloves to diminish injury risk.
– Hard hats: Not only do hard hats minimize the effects of blunt force traumas, but reduce injury risk from sharp or pointed objects from above.
– Eyewear: Wear Make sure to use glasses/eyewear with side protection if you are working where there are flying objects and particles.
[Fun-factoid] A study done on construction workers in 2019 showed that only 60% used PPE during work! Discomfort, fit, and lack of motivation were the common reasons why PPE wasn’t worn 100% of the time. According to OSHA, the proper use of PPE can prevent 37.6% of occupational injuries. 12-14% of occupational injuries resulting in total disability are caused by employees not wearing appropriate PPE. Conveniently, there are more and more companies out there designing not only safe but comfortable PPE. Get out there and wear your gear!
Getting Into Character
Okay. The work scene looks right. The tools are in good shape. Your gear is on. But what else? Just looking the part isn’t quite enough of a strategy to prevent these injuries. Optimize the scene with mindfulness! This means to be aware of where you are and what’s going on around you – also known as situational awareness. Look for signs, listen for alarms. Stay focused while performing mundane or repetitive tasks.
Putting these tactics to use MUST come by habit, and habits take conscious effort to develop. Change your mindset from, “I wear PPE because it’s required” to, “I wear PPE so I can avoid serious injury.”
This mindset shift is crucial in using the tools provided to efficiently and safely perform your job tasks. Aaaaaand cut scene – er… I mean, ACTION!
Samuel Doctorian, MS, ATC || Sam is a Certified Athletic Trainer with almost 3 years of experience managing musculoskeletal injuries in the industrial setting. He obtained his Master’s in Athletic Training degree from Azusa Pacific University. He enjoys playing all kinds of sports – he even has a “coach bag” with all different kinds of sports equipment in his car so that he’s always ready to play.
Be sure to check out our other blogs for further injury prevention education and tips for the industrial athlete from Work Right NW!