Industrial workplaces are full of potential hazards, and it is up to their managers, machine operators, and workers to ensure workplace safety. Despite workplace training and safety protocols, there are over 5,000 fatal accidents in industries across the United States with tens of thousands more non-fatal accidents. The consequences of these can be disastrous for workers and their families, as well as the companies operating industrial sites. Here are the six most common types of accidents, and how they can be avoided.
The Dangers of Heavy Equipment
In every industrial setting, there is a vast array of equipment and machinery and each one is designed to speed up processes and boost production levels. These machines, though indispensable, come with their own set of risks. When operated correctly and maintained regularly, they can be the backbone of a business’s success, but the flip side presents a grim picture.
Workers can easily become entangled in machinery, leading to severe injuries or even fatalities. This is one of the primary causes of industrial accidents. Forklift trucks, commonly used in many factories, warehouses, and large-scale construction sites, have been responsible for many industrial accidents. Forklift accidents resulted in over 614 deaths and injured more than 7,000 individuals between 2011 and 2017, and these numbers are slowly rising.
These statistics show the importance of proper training and safety measures. Employers have to make sure that every individual operating these machines is adequately trained, and that the machinery is routinely inspected and repaired to prevent unforeseen accidents that can result in catastrophic personal injuries and even death.
Exposure to Harmful Chemicals
Many industries often rely on a diverse range of chemicals to produce goods and services, from everyday items to specialized products, and in construction. While these chemicals play a huge role in manufacturing, they also introduce many potential hazards to the workforce. Chemical exposure can occur in various ways, such as direct contact, inhalation, or even accidental ingestion. A lack of proper protective equipment or malfunctioning machinery can lead to unexpected chemical spills or leaks, putting workers at immediate risk.
Some chemicals, like hydrofluoric acid, are so potent that even brief inhalation can result in severe injuries to the mouth, lungs, and other organs in the body. Chronic exposure to some chemicals can also lead to long-term health issues, including respiratory problems, skin conditions, and even cancers. Businesses need to prioritize chemical safety to ensure that workers are well-trained and informed about the chemicals they handle and are equipped with the necessary protective gear to safeguard their health and the health of their coworkers.
Falling Objects Lead to Injury
The design of many factories, warehouses, and industrial plants, with high walkways and towering shelves, maximizes space and output but introduces a significant hazard; the risk of falling objects. Whether it is a tool inadvertently left on a ledge, improperly stored materials, or stored items disturbed during operations, falling objects can strike workers below with devastating force.
These incidents can lead to blunt force trauma, crushing injuries, traumatic brain injuries, or even fatalities. The weight and height from which an object falls increase the damage caused, turning even small items into lethal projectiles. To reduce these risks, employers must implement rigorous safety and storage procedures. This includes making sure that items stored at height are securely fastened, walkways are clear of debris, and workers are equipped with protective headgear. Regular safety audits and training sessions can also help to create a culture of safety, making workers more vigilant about overhead hazards and the importance of proper storage to protect them and their coworkers.
Slips, Trips, and Falls
Slip and fall accidents are among the most common industrial accidents. Spilled liquids, unlevel flooring, stray cables, or even poorly designed work areas can turn seemingly safe areas into accident hotspots. Falls can result in a range of injuries, from minor bruises to severe fractures. Particularly alarming are incidents where workers hit their heads, leading to traumatic brain injuries with long-lasting repercussions.
To combat this, plant operators and industry managers must prioritize regular floor inspections, prompt cleanups of spills, and proper signage for wet or uneven areas. Investing in anti-slip flooring and making sure that ladders and climbing equipment meet safety standards can further reduce the risks to workers. Proactive safety measures make all the difference when preventing these types of accidents, and reduce injuries, personal injury claims, and insurance costs.
Poor Plant Maintenance
Machines that aren’t regularly serviced or repaired can malfunction and pose grave risks to their operators and nearby workers. Danger can be posed by a conveyor belt that suddenly jams or a machine that overheats, and the results can be disastrous and cause injury. The threats go beyond the machinery itself. Infrastructure, like electrical systems or building integrity, can become hazards if not properly maintained too.
A neglected leak might lead to electrical shorts or slippery floors, both of which can endanger lives. Employers bear the responsibility of ensuring that every piece of equipment and infrastructure is in optimal working condition. Regular maintenance checks and repairs, as well as a keen eye for detail, can prevent accidents and safeguard both workers and productivity. The cost of regular maintenance and safety checks far outweighs the prices both workers and their employers pay for industrial accidents.
Improper lifting techniques or the absence of adequate lifting equipment can expose workers to severe risks. Straining to lift an object without proper support can lead to musculoskeletal injuries, particularly to the back and spine. Such injuries can be debilitating and often require extensive medical treatment with the potential for sidelining a worker for extended periods. Employers must prioritize the safety of their workforce by providing lifting equipment, like hoists or forklifts.
Training sessions on safe lifting techniques can give workers the knowledge they need to handle heavy objects without jeopardizing their health. No worker should have to compromise their safety for the sake of their job, and proper lifting practices are an important step toward that goal.
If you have been affected by an industrial accident and suffered a personal injury, you should get in touch with one of our lawyers as soon as possible. Do not suffer in silence and instead get the help and advice you need to ensure you are correctly compensated for your injuries and loss of earnings.
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