The prevalence of occupational injuries increases over the course of summer. The Bureau Labor of Statistics (BLS) reports that more work-related injuries occur between June and August than at any other time of the year. Nearly 3,300 workers are injured every day during the summer months. These injuries can be attributed to the demand for outdoor work, a lack of employee training, and a lack of enforcement of critical safety procedures.
Common Summer Work Injuries
Skin Conditions: Repeated prolonged exposure to the sun’s UV rays increases the risk of developing skin conditions. There’s also the likelihood of cuts and wounds due to improper use of gloves when handling sharp equipment, improper guarding around machines that use chains and blades, and use of blunt blades for cutting. Surface wounds like abrasions, scrapes, and blisters make up 11% of summer workplace injuries while open wounds such as incisions and punctures account for 10% of the injuries.
Falls: While falls can happen at any time, they’re more likely to increase during the summer months due to severe summer storms and the demand for outdoor work like construction and landscaping. Falls may be a result of heatstroke or dehydration. Workers may become dizzy and lose their balance or faint. Falls can result in an array of injuries, such as broken bones and head trauma.
Heat Stroke: Heat stroke is a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when the body overheats due to overexposure to high temperatures. This usually affects workers who spend long hours outside. Symptoms of heat stroke include nausea, dizziness, increased heart rate, and confusion.
Sprains, Strains, and Tear: These account for more than 40% of summer workplace injuries. They occur when workers lift excessively heavy objects, use tools that are not ergonomically sound, and walk on slippery, obstructed, and slippery surfaces.
Reducing Workplace Injuries During the Summer Months
The start of the summer season is a good time for employers to evaluate their safety practices and remind employees of the measures they should take to prevent injuries. Employers need to develop and implement an effective injury prevention plan and a medical monitoring program for exposed workers. They should also notify employees of the dangers of heat stress and train them to prevent and mitigate heat-related stress. It’s also crucial for employers to increase ventilation, provide a water station and cool-down area, encourage workers to take frequent breaks, and inform them of the type of clothing or PPE they should wear.