June 3, 2019
For many people, summer brings carefree days of outdoor fun. But for workers, summer may also mean a higher risk of on-the-job injuries. And for employers, that means lost productivity and a seasonal spike in workers’ compensation claims. That’s definitely no one’s idea of fun.
Injury Trends in the Summer
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more occupational injuries occur during the summer than any other time of the year.1 At MedExpress, our workers’ compensation injury data supports the BLS’s findings: In 2018, we saw a marked increase between June and August in workers’ compensation patients who were injured.
Common Summer Work Injuries
The most common summer injuries cited by the BLS include:
- Sprains, strains, and tears – 40 percent of injuries
- Surface wounds (like scrapes or abrasions) – 11 percent of injuries
- Open wounds (like punctures or incisions) – 10 percent of injuries2
The Costs of Occupational Injuries
According to the National Safety Council, total work-related injury costs were approximately $161.5 billion in 2017.3 Yep, that’s billion with a “B.” These costs include the total of everything that encompasses a work-related injury: lost wages, lost productivity, medical expenses, vehicle damage, and employer costs. What it doesn’t include are the costs associated with training another employee to fill in for the injured worker, potential overtime costs to cover the injured employee’s responsibilities, and the potential morale issues from staff who may feel overwhelmed due to increased workloads.
And since on-the-job injuries surge in the summer, it makes sense that employer costs for those injuries increase as well. Not to worry, though. There are a number of things employers can do to mitigate their risks and increase worker safety during the warmest months of the year.
Preventing Summer Occupational Injuries
You can help prevent the most common summer on-the-job injuries with a focus on education and prevention. The start of the summer season can be a good time to remind your employees of safety measures they should be taking every day as well as to evaluate your own business practices that could prevent injuries in the first place.
Educating your employees about how to prevent wounds and sprains, strains, and tears can go a long way in helping you decrease the incidence of these injuries in your workplace. In-person trainings or educational materials can highlight the risk factors for these injuries and explain what employees can do to keep injuries at bay.
Every employer has different needs and different types of injuries that happen at their workplace. To make sure your education is most effective for your workforce, you can assess the most common types of summertime injuries your workers experience and tailor your training and education for those injuries.4 For example, construction businesses may need to focus on ladder safety to address sprains, strains, and tears, whereas manufacturing companies may need to implement better hand protection training for wound injuries.
Additionally, making sure your employees are fit and healthy can help them take injury prevention into their own hands. Employees who smoke, are obese, or do not exercise can be at higher risk of getting injured on the job.5 Implementing a workplace wellness program can help educate employees about the benefits of good health while helping them improve their fitness levels.6
Employers can help prevent many on-the-job injuries by assessing and identifying risks and removing as many risk factors in their workplace as they can. This is called a job hazard analysis and it looks at the capacity of the workers, the tasks they need to perform, the tools they’re using, and the work environment.7
To help you brainstorm some of the ways to lessen the chances of employee injury, you can consider the following:
Some sprain, strain, and tear risks:
- Tools that are not ergonomically sound and force employees to use awkward motions.
- Having employees lift heavy objects that are more than they can realistically lift alone or without the help of machinery.
- Walking surfaces that may be slippery, uneven, or obstructed.
Some cuts and wound risks:
- Not providing the proper gloves for employees to use when handling sharp equipment.
- Not using sharp blades for cutting (dull blades require more force to use).
- Not having the proper guarding around machines that use blades, chains, presses, lathes, etc.8
Summer should be a time to revel in the sunshine, not recuperate from an injury at work. But if your employees do need injury care, MedExpress is here to help. Our workers’ compensation and injury care services benefit both you and your employees by balancing patient care with employer needs. We’ll focus on what’s important – your employees’ health while helping you stay compliant and reducing your overall healthcare costs.
1 U.S. Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Seasonal Timing of Work-Related Injuries. Last updated October 2013. Accessed April 19, 2019.
3 National Safety Council. Injury Facts: Work. Last updated January 2019. Accessed April 19, 2019.
4 Vermont Department of Labor. How to Reduce Your Workplace Injuries. Last updated 2014. Accessed April 19, 2019.
5 Society for Human Resource Management. How to Prevent Sprains and Strains in the Workplace. Last updated July 2014. Accessed April 19, 2019.
6 Minnesota Department of Transportation. Reducing Injuries with a Workplace Wellness Program. Last updated June 2011. Accessed April 19, 2019.
7 Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Job Hazard Analysis. Last updated 2002. Accesses April 19, 2019.
8 Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. Preventing Cuts and Lacerations. Last updated 2009. Accessed April 19, 2019.