Approximately 12.3 million Americans work in factories and manufacturing facilities, according to the Pew Research Center. It's a vital sector of our nation's infrastructure and economy, creating both jobs and goods. But like all industries, factory work comes with an inherit risk of injury. To learn more about common injuries sustained by factory workers and how to avoid them, keep reading.
Perhaps the most common injury sustained by factory workers is overexertion. Employees working at factories and manufacturing facilities often clock long hours, paying little-to-no regard to how it affects their health. As a result, they end up pushing themselves beyond their physical limits, resulting in overexertion and fatigue. When this occurs, the employee is more likely to make other mistakes, further compounding the risk associated with overexertion. Employers should require their employees to take regular breaks to reduce the risk of overexertion-related injuries.
Nearly everyone will experience a pulled muscle at some point in their life. This condition is characterized by muscle fiber becoming physically torn, resulting in pain, swelling and tenderness. Normally, pulled muscles heal on their own without the need for medical attention. However, it's important for the worker to rest during this recovery period; otherwise, he or she may re-injure the muscle, resulting in an even longer recovery period.
Of course, factory workers are also susceptible to burns. According to the American Burn Association (ABA), nearly half a million workers in the United States sustain burn injuries that require medical treatment every year. Some of these burns are attributed to direct exposure to heat, whereas others involve chemicals. Employers should provide workers with the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to reduce the risk of burns.
You might be surprised to learn that hearing loss is a common injury sustained by factory workers. While there are always exceptions, many factories are loud. And exposure to chronic loud noise such as this can cause hearing loss over time. Again, this is why workers should be given the appropriate PPE to protect against hearing loss and other injuries.
Another common type of injury sustained by factory workers involves being caught in or stuck between. If an employee is working near a conveyor belt or other heavy machinery, for instance, it may pull him or her into the machine; thus, causing serious injury. Injuries such as these are easily prevented, however, by remaining conscious of one's surroundings. Workers should be conscious of their body in relation to the machine, using extra caution to avoid getting too close.