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On-the-job injuries are more common in the public sector than one may think. According to the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada, nearly 250,000 Canadian workers reported work-related injuries in 2012—and 17 percent of them were public health and social services workers. Sadly, 977 Canadians were killed on the job.Some workplace health and safety hazards can be avoided with simple prevention and planning. For steps your government agency can take to keep its employees safe, keep reading.

Promoting on the job safety

As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Here are three common workplace hazards and ways to avoid them:

  1. Illness: One common workplace hazard is communicable disease and illness. What’s more, a study by The Conference Board of Canada estimates that missing work due to illness is costing the Canadian economy $16.6 billion each year. Unfortunately, many of us work in a culture where staying home sick is frowned upon; however, the fact remains that dangerous illnesses, such as the flu, are easily spread from one person to another.Guidelines similar to those followed in schools can help prevent flu pandemics at work, too. For instance, providing easy access to tissues, soap and water, and alcohol-based hand sanitizers or sprays can help stop germs in their tracks. Sick employees should be sent home and kept there until they are feeling well and are without a fever for at least 24 hours. If possible, provide employees who feel well enough to work but are still contagious with home access to work email and VoIP to keep productivity up and sick days down.
  2. Ergonomic injuries: According to a report produced by the AFL-CIO, ergonomic hazards account for 34.7 percent of workplace injuries. These types of injuries are often seen in those who work in office settings, whether from sitting at uncomfortable workstations or from simply sitting for too long. There are many simple fixes to some of the more commonly seen ergonomic problems. Mayo Clinic has a helpful online how-to guide for proper office ergonomics. It includes simple steps organizations can apply today, such as promoting proper body posture, strategically placing key objects (such as a mouse, stapler or telephone) to prevent excessive stretching, and using a keyboard or mouse rest to reduce and soothe stress on the wrists.WebMD recommends a series of desk exercises to ease aches and joint stress experienced by those performing long hours of repetitive deskwork. A paper mouse pad imprinted with desk ergonomic tips serves as a great stretching reminder.
  3. Automobile accidents: Those whose jobs involve a lot of driving and road time are at an increased risk of being involved in an automobile accident. Being overworked, sleep deprived and using a cell phone while driving are contributors to this risk. Remind your frequent drivers of the importance of not texting and driving, using hands-free devices and pulling over to rest when tired. Imprint your safety message on auto air vent fresheners to serve as a visible reminder of your “safety first” policy.

Remember, keeping employees safe at work is a must. These simple tips can help keep employees healthy, counter disease and reduce the risk of harm and serious injury. Stay safe!

National Day of Mourning- April 28.” Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 22 Aug. 2014.

Absent Workers Cost the Canadian Economy Billions.“The Conference Board of Canada. N.p., 23 Sept. 2013. Web. Retrieved 22 Aug. 2014.

Spiro, Josh. “9 Avoidable Workplace Health and Safety Hazards.” Inc.com. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 05 Aug. 2014.

Death on the Job Report.” AFL-CIO. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Aug. 2014.

Office ergonomics: Your how-to guide.” Mayo Clinic Adult Health. N.p., 13 Apr. 2013. Web. Retrieved 03 Aug. 2014.

  Seliger, Susan. “Stretching Exercises at Your Desk: 12 Simple Tips.” WebMD. WebMD, 27 May 2009. Web. Retrieved 05 Aug. 2014.


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