The neighbor got a new fence.
It was a quick installation as it was completed in two days. One day for removing the old fence and one day for installing the new metal chain link fence. Before I knew it, the project was wrapped up by mid-afternoon on the second day. Not to mention it was the perfect weather to install the fence, with temperatures of lower 80s, no clouds, and no rain in the forecast.
As I watched the two male workers maneuver around and in-between their tools, truck, and area the fence was getting installed, I couldn’t help but notice their process of installation. The entire installation was done by hand. A metal hand fence post driver was used to pound each pole into the ground. The final touch was positioning and connecting the metal chain linked fence to each pole.
Hand tools can make job tasks more difficult and take longer to complete. Repetitious movements, such as pounding fence poles into the ground by hand, can put pressure and ware-and-tare on bodily limbs such as the neck, shoulders, elbows, hands, wrists, forearms, and back. Over time, repeating this type of physically demanding work as one ages, can greatly increase the risk of worker injury. Occupational injuries are costly.
One inflammation injury could cost a business up to approximately $40,000 in direct costs, and up to $42,000 in indirect costs. As a result, the business would need to accrue an additional $2.7 million in sales to recuperate the costs of this one injury.
One strain injury could cost a business up to approximately $32,000 in direct costs, and up to $36,000 in indirect costs. Therefore, the business would need to accrue an additional $2.3 million in revenue to recuperate the costs of this one type of injury.
Indirect costs are those hidden costs associated with injuries. They may not even be noticed by a business simply because they are absorbed into routine tasks and procedures that occur when an injury happens. Some examples of indirect costs include:
- advertising and searching for new additional employees
- hiring additional employees
- training new additional employees
- conducting incident investigations
- corrective action development, implementation, and training
- new procedure development, implementation, and training
- loss time by supervisors
- loss production time
- loss of skill/proficiency
- loss of efficiency
According to the National Council on Compensation Insurance, the average cost of all worker’s compensation claims for 2016-2017 was $40,000. Slips or falls were above average costs at $47,000 and on average amputations cost the most at $98,000. On average the most costly injuries per claim involved multiple bodily parts, the head, and central nervous system.
Simple modifications can reduce risks of injuries. Ensuring machine guards are in place during usage. Upgrade hand tools to electric tools or other appropriate equipment. Eliminate the use of a specific chemical. Rearrange a workstation so an employee can work in a more upright position, rather than work in a slouched or hunched over position. Provide ice cold electrolyte replacement drinks (with low sugar), ice cold water, or flavored ice cold water during a break on a hot day. Provide a shaded or an air conditioned area equipped with chairs, for employees to cool off during a break on a hot day. Practice good housekeeping tasks daily.
Conducting safety management system audits and risk assessments can help identify existing gaps that can lead to occupational injuries. Closing existing gaps not only reduces costs it also builds trust among workers. Working with an outside agency to conduct audits and/or risk assessments, will bring a fresh pair of eyes and different perspectives to your needs.
Evolving EHS can help! Let us piece together solutions to your environmental, occupational health and safety puzzle.