- Lifting heavy items
- Falls from trucks
- Power tool injuries at jobsite
- Falls on the jobsite
Workers Compensation insurance, commonly known as Work Comp, provides coverage to your employees for medical bills and lost wages due to an injury they incur while on the job. Workers Compensation laws vary by state, but it is commonly a requirement that employers provide coverage for their employees.
Premiums for Work Comp insurance are directly related to payroll hours and past claims experience. That’s why teaching – and consistently reiterating – safety and loss control techniques to workers is so important for employers… to reduce the frequency of accidents and claims, and therefore, maintain a positive claims experience.
In the insurance program we have identified four common causes of employee/volunteer injuries sustained by Habitat employees and volunteers. Here we’ll address each of them.
LIFTING HEAVY ITEMS
Due to the strenuous nature of work performed at jobsites and ReStores, employees should be taught proper lifting techniques. Improper lifting frequently leads to back injures which are a major contributor to work comp claims. The proper lifting technique is:
Get as close as possible to the load you need to lift. Maintain a secure footing with feet shoulder width apart. Bend your knees, keeping your back straight. Tighten your stomach muscles and lift with your legs. Use the same principles when lowering or placing a load.
It’s also important to know when a team lift is appropriate. If an item is too heavy or too awkward to lift by one person, ask another worker to assist and lift the item together. Using moving equipment, such as dollies and hand trucks, can help minimize the potential for employee injury as well.
POWER TOOL SAFETY
Tools are such a necessary part of the work done on construction sites that it’s sometimes difficult to remember that they can pose a hazard. Injuries from power tools can be avoided by following a few basic safety rules.
Before anyone is allowed to use a power tool, they should demonstrate to a supervisor that they are competent in the operation of the tool. Alls tools should be examined before usage for any defects, such as a frayed cord or bent blade. Tools should be carried properly, never by the cord. And as common sense as it may sound, never aim a power tool at another person. Saw guards should be in place, and should not be tampered with. And most importantly – pay attention to the task at hand. Many times injuries can be attributed to inattention.
Volunteers should not be allowed to use nail guns; these are great time-saving devices, but in the hands of an inexperienced worker they become a serious danger to the operator and others working near them. Remember they are called Guns for a reason.
Slips, trips and falls are common and preventing them should be of concern to all affiliates. Each affiliate should have a Jobsite Safety Manual, including sections on proper ladder use, guarding floor and window openings, as well as safe roof-work. Providing a safety manual – and even requiring it be read – will go a long way in preventing dangerous falls at the job site.
For ReStores, fall prevention should include paying attention to flooring, lighting, cleanliness and clutter and exterior walking surfaces. Changes in floor levels should be marked with bright tape and handrails where necessary. Maintaining clutter free aisles helps to cut down on potential trip hazards as customers browse through merchandise. Parking lots and sidewalks should be kept clean and in good repair. Holes should be patched, sidewalks should be swept and ice should be removed in poor weather. Wet floors should also be called to the attention of shoppers with caution signs.
Falls from trucks typically occur during loading and unloading of jobsite materials and items at ReStores. These falls can usually be attributed to losing awareness of the surroundings. When working in a truck bed, be sure to identify where the edges are and how close you are to them. The same concept applies to a loading dock.
Safe work in a safe environment will go a long way towards minimizing employee injuries, which in turn will help keep the cost of workers’ compensation insurance down.