3Some employers might believe that their employees don't work hard enough. In reality, people who do physically demanding labor might well be working too hard, putting themselves at risk of injuries from overexertion.

Overexertion injuries are costly because they're so frequent and often involve days away from work. Estimates place the total cost to employers at more than $10 billion annually. Businesses can help prevent these injuries by implementing workplace programs that provide positive feedback and correction, together with employee involvement and cooperation.

Your injury prevention program should follow these guidelines:

  • Identify overexertion risks. Once you've pinpointed the risks, you can modify workstations, job procedures, and the work environment to minimize them. Examples include storing heavy items low to avoid excessive reaching and strain; reducing the depth of shelves to reduce overreaching; and modifying the work environment to reduce the need for twisting, bending, and other awkward postures.
  • Provide lifting aids. Manual and powered lifting aids minimize strain and significantly reduce the risk of overexertion in many material handling tasks.
  • Prohibit solo lifting or carrying loads more than 50 pounds. Weights heavier than this increase a worker's risk of serious back injury. If an employee needs to move heavier loads, require him or her to get help or use a lifting aid.
  • Require frequent short breaks. A study conducted at Ohio State University and funded by NIOSH indicates that workers who do a lot of lifting should take frequent breaks to relax tired, tense muscles and reduce their risk of injury - particularly to their back.
  • Encourage early reporting of overexertion injuries. Early treatment for an employee back injury or other overexertion-related injury can reduce the risk of recurrence and reduce your Workers Compensation claims costs - and premiums.

For more information on creating a comprehensive injury reduction program, please feel free to get in touch with our agency's risk management professionals.

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