Top 5 Surprising Workplace Dangers
At Ricci Law Firm, we often write about the dangers of working in construction, or with heavy machinery. But you may be surprised to learn that hidden dangers also lurk in ordinary, boring workplaces:
- Working while sleep deprived
For whatever reason – holding multiple jobs, juggling kids and work, stress and worry – Americans are sleeping less than ever. According to the University of Chicago, Americans sleep one to two hours less than they did 60 years ago. Why is this important to worker safety? Because work accidents and sleep deprivation are closely linked. Most accidents occur when people are more likely to want to sleep. Although the National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours of sleep a day, most American workers get significantly less. Poor sleep patterns increase fatigue, which in turn increases the risk of injury.
- Using poor ergonomics
We are not just talking about a fancy keyboard and mouse pad. Improper lifting, bending, and reaching still cause high numbers of workplace injuries and occupational disease. Although employers teach workers the proper techniques, many workers – especially hard workers intending to maximize productivity – ignore best safety practices when push comes to shove. Even occasional use of poor ergonomic techniques can cause repetitive motion diseases, sprains, or even serious trauma.
- Performing a different job than usual
Countless workers get hurt when they step outside their normal routine. Maybe they try to cover another job in a co-worker’s absence. Maybe a tight deadline requires all hands on deck in a different department. Maybe workers must prepare for an unusual event, such as a holiday party or workplace conference. Maybe a flood or storm requires workplace clean-up and repair. The possibilities are endless. While teamwork is vital to workplace success, workers who step outside their normal routine risk injury because of unfamiliarity with the job and its dangers.
Sometimes the best-laid safety plans get tossed out the window when days get hectic. Workers who ordinarily would ask for help lifting an object make a snap decision to go it alone. Workers hurrying to meet a deadline accidentally step on the same slick spot they had been avoiding all day. Workers who multi-task for a split second while operating dangerous machinery lose focus, causing disaster. Workers try to shave off a few minutes by skipping the safety harness, just this once. As life becomes increasingly hectic, so does the workplace, and so do the risks of injury.
- Being overly-confident
Surprisingly, the worst accidents often strike the most experienced workers, not the newest hires. Why? After years on the job, workers can get overly confident and can start to let down their guard. Generally, it is the old-timer – not the new worker – who rolls his or her eyes about putting on safety goggles, or a hardhat, or a dust mask. These experienced workers, lulled into a false sense of security due to years of injury-free work, may blow off necessary safety precautions and place themselves at risk.
Not all workplace dangers are clearly visible. To stay safe, workers in all industries should heed safety advice and remain vigilant. If you or a loved one has been injured or contracted a disease in the workplace, contact Ricci Law Firm to learn more.