Work Safety and Avoidable Injuries Among Young Workers

reflective windbreaker jacketIt’s no secret that adolescents and younger people have a more cavalier attitude regarding safety. Youth sometimes breeds an attitude that puts safety on the back burner and leaves them open to injuries, short term and long term, that are completely avoidable. They’ll wear a reflective windbreaker jacket to an 80s party, but not when needing to stay visible by heavy machine operators. What gives?

In 2014, adolescents ages 16 to 19 were out of work an average of four days following a work injury. Every worker needs to watch out for their own physical safety, but there are some injuries that afflict younger workers more than their older counterparts. If you’ve got a spritely youth on your team these are some helpful safety reminders to pester them with (they might roll their eyes, but they’ll be thankful in the long run, we promise).

  • Yes, it’s loud: This will sound funny, but noise is a silent killer. Most barely notice the effect of consistent noise. This constant noise leaves the ears vulnerable to louder sounds that might not seem so loud, comparatively. Hearing protection is essential to stopping hearing damage and/or loss later on.
  • Muscle strain is realMany physically taxing jobs have younger employees that insist on being the most physically active in the crew. More young workers strain muscles they didn’t know were strainable simply by going through motions recklessly at an unnecessary speed. The job is still going to be there, so don’t break your back lifting your own hubris.
  • Just wear it: Safety uniforms and workwear aren’t usually the most stylish pieces of apparel. Again, safety gets tossed into the wind when haphazardly performing tasks deemed trivial or skipping out on wearing safety clothing for jobs performed hundreds of times. This is where injury thrives; don’t fall victim to the thought of abandoning safety workwear because a job seems menial.

Workplace safety boils down to taking things slowly and analyzing potentially dangerous situations. It’s easy to fall into a routine and lose track of the safety lessons from your first week. Obviously, it’s nothing against younger workers, but they’re more likely to sustain injuries that could’ve been avoided by a brief consideration of risk level. If you’re thinking you look Marty McFly in your reflective windbreaker jacket, think about wearing something equally safe on the construction site. You’ll thank yourself when you come back from the future.

Three Completely Avoidable Workplace Injuries

types of safety clothingWe’re not saying most human beings are absent-minded or situationally clueless, but once we’re in a comfy groove, we can certainly become complacent. This is true of the workplace where week in and week out, you’re there for hours on end completing tasks you’re usually quite familiar with.

In that familiar work environment, not paying as detailed attention to your surroundings as you might’ve initially is a breeding ground for accidental injury. We want to keep you safe out there, so here are some common injuries that happen day to day at work and how to stay away from them.

Repetitive strain
At work, we often get into repetitious routines. Sometimes these routines aren’t even physically strenuous (in the traditional sense). Other times they are. The injury bearing common denominator is that anything physically repetitive will strain certain muscle groups, this happens more when the activity is physically demanding and workers become complacent (lazily lifting things the wrong way, for instance). It might sound strange, but types of safety clothing and accessories like back braces, heavy duty gloves, computer glasses, ergonomic chairs, etc. are all small pieces that can reduce the impact of repetitive strain.

Loud noise
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health did a study that showed the maximum exposure time to sound beyond 85 decibels should be limited to eight hours. Incorporating ear protection in safety workwear is vital to keeping your hearing health unharmed. This may not seem like it applies to many jobs, but even a lower decibel level of constant background noise can have detrimental effects on hearing.

Vehicle collisions
Large commercial vehicles, construction trucks, forklifts, golf carts, you name it. Any job that involves vehicles, no matter the size or purpose, shares vehicle-related injuries. On worksites, varying types of safety clothing should be worn to ensure that the drivers of some of these vehicles can see you. Of course, safety clothes do not replace paying attention to your surroundings, but any type of safety uniform will ease visibility and potentially keep you out of unnecessary danger.

Work is tough on the body! We already know that after a long day, nothing feels quite as nice as the couch. What we don’t want to see is you getting hurt from the tasks you’re performing day to day. Get up, stretch out, stay visible, and pay attention. We’re looking out for you, just make sure you are, too!

3 Recreational Activities that Warrant High Visibility Clothing

safety sweatshirts

The world is a dangerous place. Between work and play, as resilient as human beings are, we’re pretty injury prone. Allow an example:

Whilst driving along you may see a team of construction workers or a crossing guard when school is letting out for the day. They’re usually (if not always) wearing high visibility clothing like a fluorescent vest or any manner of safety workwear. The point is, it’s easily seen. In 2015, it was estimated that there were 4,836 accidental work-related deaths. That’s 13 daily.

It’s a tragic, sobering statistic. There will always be accidents, whether at work or not. We’re here to help bring a mindset of safety to you, be it while on the construction site or taking a bike ride. Most focus is applied to workplace safety, but what about when you’re off the clock? Here are some common leisure activities that call for safety hoodies and other forms of high vis clothing.

Running and Biking
The ubiquitous orange safety vest is often associated with outdoor work. The same should be done with outdoor exercising, especially in congested areas with automobile traffic. Running and biking are particularly hazardous in faster moving urban areas but should be treated with the same amount of caution wherever they’re being done.

The amount of high visibility workout apparel is encouraging. Stylish safety sweatshirts, rain jackets, bike helmets, and more give options to help you stay as visible as a traffic cone — only much better looking. For the fashion conscious cyclist, you can even purchase hipster-approved safety hoodies before your next ride.

Hiking and Snowsports
While winter is in full swing, many people like to get on the slopes, snowshoes, cross-country skis, or just take a relaxing winter stroll. On the ski mountain, it’s recommended to wear more visible clothing as goggles sometimes have a tendency to obscure plainer colors. Contrasting against snow and trees is essential to staying away from collisions with other riders, which is why high vis clothing is so common on the ski slopes.

Many hiking trails share the road with snowmobiles and ATVs in the winter (as well as the summer). As it gets chillier, your group should add safety sweatshirts to their outfits. Staying visible to fast-moving vehicles in any season should absolutely be a part of your hiking uniform. Just because you’re off the road or sidewalk doesn’t mean abandoning trail safety. However, being visible will not stop you from running into trees. Gravity can be a brute.

Late fall into early winter, hunting seasons for various wild game animals are open. Every year there are tragic stories of people being mistakenly killed. You should never shoot at something you can’t fully identify, but the reason the hunter’s blaze orange exists is to make yourself visible to other hunters.

This can similarly be applied to hiking. If you’re hiking outdoors and it is hunting season, extra caution should be taken. If you aren’t a hunter at all, remember that in your woodland hike, being distinctly visible will keep you safe and not mistaken for an animal. Last we checked, animals don’t wear orange or neon green.

Let’s avoid injury and accidents this new year. Whether safety sweatshirts while going on a bike ride or high visibility workwear at the construction site, keep yourself seen and keep yourself safe. Work hard, play hard, but stay bright and pay attention.