10 Things Employers in Manufacturing Should Know about On-the-Job Injuries

By Eric Becker | 06/30/2016

An on-the-job injury is the last thing that any employer wants to think about, but the first thing that you should be prepared for. The truth is, your organization is diverse and has many different job roles and tasks, with the potential for many different types of injuries. It’s not uncommon in the manufacturing and production industry for employees to face potential hazardous situations in their work environment.  

For employers in the manufacturing industry, there are 10 key elements that can increase the risk of an on-the-job injury.

1. Safety precautions

When compared to many other industries, employees within the manufacturing industry are prone to experiencing cuts and lacerations or burns and scalds. These are some of the most common injuries in manufacturing and sometimes these injuries can be very serious requiring medical attention and time off work. According to a study conducted by Travelers, 40% of manufacturing injuries were the result of employees coming into contact with a dangerous object. Fortunately, some of these injuries can be prevented with the appropriate safety equipment such as gloves or goggles. In some cases the appropriate floor mats may even prevent an injury when in a warehouse or on the production floor. These are inexpensive precautions that can save money for you and your business and also prevent your employees from missing valuable work time.

2. Employee Training

The short amount of time it takes to properly train your employees about appropriate techniques can save you a lot of money in the long run. Something as simple as adjusting the way they hold a tool or lift a box can prevent an injury and save a trip to the ER department. It’s also beneficial to provide visual safety reminders around your worksite about potential danger areas.

3. Exposure to harmful substances

Another common threat facing manufacturing employees is inhaling or coming into contact with hazardous chemicals or other substances. To avoid this type of injury claim, be sure to provide proper safety equipment or guidelines to employees, including protective gloves or facemasks. If your employees are not going to be wearing protective gear at all times, make sure hazardous areas are marked with clear and visible signage, alerting employees to the proper safety precautions.

4. Lack of proper equipment

Many times employee injuries are the result of insufficient tools or worn-out equipment that no longer function as effectively, forcing employees to exert additional force or motions in order to complete a task. This can lead to compromised working conditions and ultimately lead to employee injuries. If your employees rely on certain tools or equipment to complete their daily tasks, be sure to have them services regularly and check for frequent wear to prevent misuse and risk of employee injury. 

5. Exhaustion and fatigue

Drowsiness and overworked employees contribute to a large amount of on-the-job injuries. There may be busy times of the year when you need to squeeze out extra hours from your employees, but your employees still need as much rest as possible to perform the job tasks to their full capability.  That extra hour or two of productivity is not worth the cost of dealing with a workers’ compensation claim.

6. Up-to-date licensing 

Whether your employees need licenses to operate motorized machinery or to be in the presence of harmful substances, licenses need your attention. Each organization is unique and will require different licenses, so it’s up to you to decide what best fits your organization. An on-the-job injury is already difficult enough to deal with, but if your employee gets injured and they didn’t have the license they needed to perform that job task you may have to engage with an entirely different set of issues.

7. Repetitive motion

In the manufacturing industry many jobs involve repeating the same movements and motions over and over. This repetitive motion can create great strain on the muscles and joints, leading soft tissue to wear out and break down. Continuing to repeat these motions without the presence of soft tissue can lead to serious pain and long-term medical issues. Implementing a rotation program where your employees are switch up their routine throughout the day can reduce this risk. There are also certain tools and equipment that may be applicable to your business to help reduce the strain on your employees.

8. Overexertion

Overexertion accidents account for a large portion of all claims. Every individual is different and has different capabilities based on body type, strength and mobility levels. It should not be expected for two individuals off differing size and strength to handle the exact same workload. To protect your employees from overexertion injuries you can arrange for a human performance evaluation (HPE) to be performed which measures how much their body can handle based on body functionality. This evaluation helps determine what job tasks they can handle without overexerting themselves.

9. Rushing

Injuries can occur when employees start to cut corners and take short cuts because they feel pressured to get their work done quickly by management. Rushing through your workload can result in bypassing safety protocols just to save a few minutes. It is important to let your employees know that you value their safety above all else and foster an understanding environment. In the long-run, you will save more money by keeping employees safe and productive than by cutting corners and risking an injury. Your productivity will certainly be impacted by injured employees who can perform at full capacity due to an injury.

The short amount of time it takes to properly train your employees about appropriate techniques can save you a lot of money in the long run. Something as simple as adjusting the way they hold a tool or lift a box can prevent an injury and save a trip to the ER department. It’s also beneficial to provide visual safety reminders around your worksite about potential danger areas.

10. Clear and consistent communication

Finally, your business can’t be successful without clear and consistent communication. You have to communicate your injury care process and safety procedures to your employees. Your employees are the ones that know their work best and might have suggestions on how to better prevent injuries. Your organization may have the best procedures, plans and equipment in place – but without the proper training and communication on how to use them, they might as well not exist. 

To learn how to keep your employees health and safe, while managing your manufacturing efforts, consult with Concentra’s program experts. As a leader in occupational medicine, we’ve worked with companies in many different industries to improve the health of their workforce and reduce the risk of an on-the-job. And should an injury occur, we can help care for your employees to return them to full function sooner, while helping to minimize the impact on your organization.

*This document is an overview and does not constitute legal or medical advice.