Opioids pose serious risks, which is why the current opioid crisis is so dangerous. One of the ways opioids end up in people’s hands, and habits, is when recovering from a work-related injuries. Data related to workplace opioids can give some key information as to how this crisis impacts the workforce. In fact, you might be surprised at what the current trends are…
Workplace Opioids: Key Data
Chronic pain & previous injuries
One interesting piece of data related to workplace opioids is how they’re related to previous injuries. Most people would assume that most of the opioid-treated injuries are recent. However, the data shows otherwise. As it turns out, most of these injuries are actually older rather than recent.
Based on data from 2016, in 44 states, 15% of these prescriptions were for injuries which were 6 years or older. 30% were for injuries 2-5 years old, and 55% were for ones less than 2 years old. What this shows is most of these pills are given to treat chronic pain from past work injuries, rather than more-current injuries.
Industry & workforce
Industry and workforce also have some key data about workplace opioids. As you might expect, many physical labor jobs have high rates of opioid use. Mining and construction have the highest rates, followed by agriculture, forestry, and fishing. However, carpal tunnel is one of the most-common reasons for opioid prescriptions, showing that even office workers are at risk.
Age and company size play a role as well. Older workers tend to be given pills at higher rates than younger workers. This is mainly due to the fact that they’re at an increased risk of injury. Smaller companies also tend to see more workers who will use opioids, when compared to larger companies.
One good piece of data about workplace opioids is that they’re going down in usage. From 2016, 44% of compensation claims resulted in at least one prescription for opioids. Granted, this is still a pretty high number. However, it is 11% lower than is was four years prior in 2012.
Furthermore, the amount of pills prescribed is also going down. In 2016, many states were prescribing lower-level painkillers instead of the more highly-addictive, stronger ones. Plus, many states are working with employees to better educate them about the pills they’re taking.
Warehouses serve as a crucial in-between for manufacturers and shipping companies. However, they also have very high rates of worker injuries. As a result, it’s important to practice good warehouse safety. There’s a few overlooked areas in specific which tend to cause many of these injuries…
Warehouse Safety: Overlooked Areas
A lot of people might think warehouses are more in-land these days. Still, many are located on coastlines or on waterways. These ones tend to make use of docks to help bring in more cargo by way of ship. Of course, these docks can also pose some potential warehouse safety risks.
Docks can be a place where workers might accidentally slip or walk off the edge and into the water. The same can potentially happen when operating equipment near docks as well. Therefore, be sure that the edge of the docks are clearly marked so everyone knows where to be careful. Avoid jumping between docks as well, just to avoid the risk.
Forklifts are a very handy piece of equipment. They allow workers to lift and transport goods that they normally couldn’t by hand. However, they can be quite dangerous if misused. That’s why understanding how to forklifts safely is another important part of good warehouse safety.
For starters, before anyone handles a forklift, they should have knowledge and training about how to use them. While using them, be sure to know the weight limits so you avoid overloading the machine. Heavy loads increase the risk of the forklift tipping over. Be sure that the lights and signals are also in working order, so others will know when a forklift is approaching.
The entire purpose of a warehouse is to store goods until they need to be shipped out somewhere. It’s no surprise, then, that good storage is key for any warehouse. Good storage techniques are also important for good warehouse safety too. While it might seem straightforward, proper storage does tend to get overlooked, especially as the day goes on.
The main things about storage is accessibility and stability. You want to store goods in a way where it’s easy to reach them, without having to twist your body. Moving items around also means you should practice proper lifting and carrying techniques as well. When storing items, be sure that they are securely on a shelf or rack, and aren’t loose or balancing on other, less-sturdy items.
Depending on what kind of job you work, you might encounter some unhealthy materials. One of the more-dangerous of these materials is asbestos. While not as common as it was, it’s still important to make sure you know how to handle it safely…
Asbestos: Work With It Safely
What is it?
Asbestos is the name of a few naturally occurring minerals. However, it looks more similar to fibers than anything else. These minerals are incredibly heat- and fire-resistant, which is what lead to manufactures using in a wide variety of areas. For instance, some common areas included home fireproofing and insulation for car brakes.
However, in the 1970’s, researchers discovered that the material was linked to cancers. This lead to many nations cracking down on their usage. For example, the EPA banned spray-on versions in 1973. Now, it remains very limited and regulated in usage, with only a few select fields making use of it.
Asbestos is very dangerous to one’s health. The main risks come in the way of the microfibers the material gives off from. These fibers are very sharp and very small, and can cause harm when they touch the skin or eyes. They’re especially dangerous when someone breaths them in, or ingests them accidentally.
Breathing in asbestos particles causes a lot of micro-cuts in the lungs over time. This leads to a build-up of scar tissue, and makes it harder to breathe. Plus, the fibers themselves can also lead to lung cancer. Other lung diseases, like mesothelioma, have also been linked to these particles.
Staying safe when working with asbestos is very straightforward. Mainly, it comes down to protecting your body from those loose fibers. Therefore, it’s a good idea to wear breathing masks and goggles when handling the material. You’ll also want to wear clothes which fully cover the body, and don’t forget to bring a different pair for when you’re done!
However, you might accidentally run into asbestos when you don’t expect it. This is common in fields like construction, where many old houses might still have some in them. In these cases, it’s important to clear out of the area quickly. Then, report it to your boss or supervisor, and don’t return to the area until you’re protected. Furthermore, follow the necessary protocols in disposing of it depending on your state.
While the weather might be getting colder, many workers will still have to work outside in some shape or form. Much like with working in the summer, winter working requires some special precautions to be taken in order to stay safe. That way, you can get your work done and avoid a potential cold-related injury…
Winter Working: Braving The Cold
Wear the right clothes
Clothes are an essential part of winter working. Wearing a few layers of insulated clothing can keep you warm even as the temperature drops. It helps to wear somewhat loose clothes instead of super-tight ones. Tight clothes tend to restrict blood flow, especially to the extremities.
These extremities, as well as the head and ears, need that extra protection. Often times, the cold will affect these areas of the body first. Be sure to wear things like waterproof padded gloves and boots. Things like winter hats or masks are also good for your face and ears.
Take breaks to re-energize
It’s also important to not push yourself too hard when doing winter working. The more you work, the more energy you’ll burn off, which will impact your body’s ability to keep you warm. As a result, it’s good to take frequent and short breaks in warm, dry areas so your body can warm back up.
During these breaks, it also is a good idea to eat or drink something warm. These will further help your body warm itself back up. Plus, they’ll also get some much-needed calories into your system, helping your body keep its energy levels up.
Be aware of hypothermia
The most pressing danger that comes with winter working is hypothermia. However, not many people know what exactly hypothermia looks like. That’s why it’s very important to know what sort of symptoms you should associate with this cold-related illness.
Early stages of hypothermia include shivering, fatigue, and issues with concentration and coordination. More advanced stage symptoms include bluing of the skin, a slow heart and breathing rate, and potentially passing out. If you feel any of these symptoms, it’s important to get out of the cold and receive some medical help ASAP.
Practicing seat belt safety is the smartest, easiest way to protect yourself in a car. If you had the choice, you would likely always choose to survive in the event of a car crash. However, putting your seat belt on is comparable to making that choice every day. Seat belts help protect against driving with distraction, aggression, or impairments. So, what are some other facts about seat belts? Let’s discuss…
Seat Belt Safety: What You Should Know
What is a Standard Seat Belt Law?
A standard (primary) seat belt law means that officers can pull drivers over for not wearing their seat belt. On the other hand, secondary seat belt laws means that the officer must pull the driver over for another infraction first. Then, they can add on the citation for not wearing a seat belt. Seat belt safety laws lead to an increase in wear by about 10%. In turn, we see a dramatic decrease in the number of injuries and fatalities.
Who has the laws?
Every state beside New Hampshire has either primary or secondary seat belt laws. While only 15 states have secondary laws, it is still in the best interest of the driver and their passengers to wear their seat belts.
The states that have primary seat belt safety laws are: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Why should you wear one?
You should practice seat belt safety for yourself, mainly. If that’s not enough, keep in mind that your entire community can suffer the affects of an accident where safety belts were not worn. Those who are in the hospital after being in a crash and not wearing their seat belt have financial charges 55% greater than those who were wearing their belts. This can be the literal difference of life and death.
In conclusion, you should always follow the laws and safety guidelines when it comes to seatbelts. Not wearing a seat belt can make even minor accidents into major ones. In short, for the safety of yourself and others, wear a seat belt.
There are many jobs out there which may involve working a night shift. Hospitals, emergency services, convenience stores are some of the most common examples. However, it can be hard to make those adjustments. Using some key strategies can help in getting a better handle on the night shift demands.
Night Shift Adjustments: Tips To Try
Reset your sleep schedule
Normally, our body’s internal clock has us waking up in the morning and going to sleep at night. However, this can cause problems for night shift workers. They might end up feeling tired and fatigued during their shift. Once they get home, they might struggle to fall asleep, causing a cycle of a lack of sleep.
That’s why resetting your sleep schedule is one of the more crucial night shift adjustments. You can do this by “tricking” your body into thinking the daytime is the nighttime. Keep your light exposure low and turn off all distractions, and your body will “think” it’s time to sleep. Then, you’ll be more awake and well-rested during your shift.
Change your diet
Diet changes are also an important part of night shift adjustments. What you eat can play a major role in how much energy you’ll have for your shift. Food choices also plays a role in helping you get fully rested afterwards.
Caffeine might be an appealing option to help keep you awake for your shift. However, it should be avoided when it’s time to sleep. Furthermore, processed and sugary foods tend to give you less energy than their alternatives. Try to stick with more natural options, and include plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Exercise is another helpful strategy for making night shift adjustments. Exercising not only improves your overall health, but also helps boost your energy levels. People who exercise also tend to sleep better for longer than those who don’t.
However, you might wonder when you’ll have time to exercise. You might want to try exercising either before or after work. That way, you can see which option feels better to you. Working out beforehand might help give you an energy boost, but working out after could help you sleep faster.