- Posted by Fayez Moussa
- On 19/08/2021
The risk of workplace injuries are incredibly high in the Australian trades and field service industries. In fact, despite making up only a small portion of the Australian workforce, the field service industry accounts for 58% of workers’ compensation claims. It’s therefore crucial that businesses take stringent measures to ensure the health and safety of their workers.
We’ve compiled a list of the most common workplace injuries and helpful tips on preventing them.
1. Slips, trips, and falls
Slips, trips, and falls are among the most common workplace injuries in the field service industry. They occur for various reasons like wet and uneven floor surfaces, inappropriate footwear, loose cables, and working from heights without a harness. If employees were to slip or fall in the workplace, they can get injuries ranging from minor cuts and bruises to more serious bone fractures and concussions.
Fortunately, there are several things you can do to reduce the risk of slip, trip, and fall injuries.
- Clean spills immediately and place a wet floor caution sign to avoid accidents.
- Keep common walkways clear of stray cables and clutter.
- Ensure workplaces are well-lit so technicians can see where they’re going.
- Place warning signs for uneven footing.
- Instruct on-site technicians to wear non-slip work boots and personal protective equipment (PPE) like safety harnesses and hardhats.
- Regularly inspect the condition of ladders, boom lifts, and scaffolding.
- Prohibit working at heights during adverse weather conditions.
- Install barriers and safety nets if field technicians are working at great heights.
2. Overexertion and overuse injuries
Overexertion and overuse injuries occur when field technicians push their bodies too hard for a prolonged and repetitive period. For instance, field technicians who constantly lug around heavy materials or work with vibrating equipment are susceptible to these types of injuries. Signs of overexertion and overuse include increased fatigue, muscle strain, tendon or ligament damage, stress fractures, aching joints, numbness of the hand and arm, and chronic back and shoulder pain.
To avoid such injuries, your business must provide proper training and support for field technicians. Since carrying heavy loads contributes significantly to overexertion injuries, field technicians should wear back braces and practice proper lifting technique. If a load is too heavy, field technicians shouldn’t hesitate to use dollies or make more trips carrying lighter loads. It’s also important to encourage regular breaks during the workday to minimise fatigue and debilitating injuries.
Additionally, purchasing ergonomic equipment and maintaining them regularly can significantly decrease overuse injuries. You can even recommend stretching and mobility exercises to field technicians, so they can quickly recover and decrease risk of injury.
3. Getting struck by objects and machinery
Field technicians can sustain serious injuries from accidents involving objects and machinery in the jobsite. Building materials that are not properly secured can fall on people’s heads, causing traumatic brain injuries. Meanwhile, field technicians can get their hands caught in machinery or get struck by flying objects from faulty equipment.
Your business can reduce injuries by placing caution signs where objects are likely to fall and making sure all objects are secure throughout the day. Field technicians must wear appropriate PPE like hardhats, goggles, and gloves in high-risk zones. Plus, you need to schedule regular inspection and maintenance because faulty equipment is often at the heart of these injuries.
4. Motor vehicle accidents
Field technicians operate a wide array of vehicles, from utes and forklifts to trucks and excavators, making vehicular accidents on the jobsite a definite possibility. Head-on collisions, run-off-road crashes, vehicle-pedestrian collisions, and vehicle rollovers can lead to broken bones, disabilities, and even death.
The first step to prevent these accidents is to request your field technicians’ driving records and licences to make sure they have the qualifications to operate certain vehicles. If they have a history of road violations, you may have to deny driving privileges until they take a mandatory training course. You’ll need to develop basic safety policies on alcohol and cell phone use, seatbelts, vehicle maintenance, and rest breaks for particularly long trips. You’ll also have to install appropriate signs and designated walk paths to keep pedestrians safe.
5. Workplace violence
Violence at work comes in many forms, such as bullying, physical assault, property damage, and verbal abuse, among others. When violence occurs in the workplace, those affected may suffer serious physical and psychological trauma that affects their ability to work. Early studies show that 39% of mental distress reports were due to harassment and exposure to violence.
Addressing workplace violence requires a multipronged strategy. First, establish a policy on appropriate workplace behaviour and specify repercussions for those who inflict harm on others. Then, conduct training and awareness seminars on workplace violence, so field technicians can recognise danger and know who to report to. WorkBuddy’s intuitive technician portals may help with reporting violent incidents in the workplace.
6. Increased exposure to harmful environments
On any given day, field technicians may be exposed to extreme temperatures, electricity, closed spaces, noise, and chemical substances. Prolonged exposure to any of these environments can lead to a plethora of health and safety problems. For example, prolonged sun exposure during the summer can cause heatstroke, sunburn, and worst of all, skin cancer.
Keeping a lid on these types of injuries involves a number of strategies. Businesses must routinely inspect job locations for any hazards, put up warning signs, keep areas well-ventilated, store dangerous substances properly, and mandate rest breaks for extremely hot conditions. Field technicians should also decrease exposure with the following:
- Sunscreen, long-sleeved shirts, and sunglasses for sun protection
- Insulated tools and gloves for electrical hazards
- Respirator masks and goggles for chemical substances
- Earmuffs for loud noises
A great way to keep everyone compliant with these measures is through job forms. With WorkBuddy, you can create custom forms and checklists that allow field technicians to track their safety obligations for specific jobs. Forms and checklists can highlight safety equipment requirements, steps for identifying and addressing safety hazards, and procedures that adhere to safe work method statements. These forms don’t just apply to harmful environments, but you can customise them for slip, trip, and fall hazards, overexertion injuries, workplace violence, and more.
To learn more about how WorkBuddy can enable safer and more compliant workplaces, request a free demo today.