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Injuries and missed days penalize employers who fail to prepare holiday workers for physically demanding jobs

Cherry Hill, NJ workers' compensation attorney

Lifting, bending and other physical exertions that are unfamiliar to seasonal workers can escalate into injuries and other problems around the holidays.

The prospect that workplace injuries will likely rise over the holiday season stems largely from many companies failing to prepare workers for the physically demanding work that they are asked to do.

An increase in injuries can significantly hinder the workplace’s efficiency and limit employees’ ability to keep working, according to Occupational Health & Safety, a business news outlet.

New workers have a higher risk

Companies like UPS, Target and Amazon said they plan to hire thousands of seasonal workers. That makes it important to invest in retaining employees. It also reduces lost time to ensure business goals are met this holiday season.

As inexperienced workers rush to fulfill consumer demands, many companies will experience a spike in musculoskeletal injuries. These injuries are caused by repetitive motions, like picking and packing, lowering, lifting, carrying, stepping and bending.

This can hinder a business’ efficiency and an employee’s ability to continue to work.

‘Tis the season… for workplace injuries

Employees in their first month on the job have more than three times the risk for a lost-time injury than workers who have been at their job for over a year. That’s according to research from the Toronto-based Institute for Work & Health discussed in a 2016 article by the National Safety Council, a nonprofit that works to eliminate preventable deaths.

One reason for the rise in lost-time injuries among new workers could be that they are doing unfamiliar tasks. Some of those tasks can be hazardous. Unsure about their safety rights, new workers might be reluctant to speak up about a workplace hazard.

Other factors include the new workers underestimating the risks of some tasks and lack of training.

Tips for temps to avoid injuries

The Occupational Health and Safety article offered tips for businesses:

  • Teach Proper Movement Tailored To Job-Specific Tasks: The way people move, use their bodies and interact with their environments impacts whether they get hurt. By focusing on training, workers can move through new situations and environments without injury.
  • Train Workers To Build Safe Habits Over Time: Top-performing athletes train for hours daily so that when it’s time to act under pressure, they can do so almost without thinking about it. The goal of businesses should be to instill this behavior in workers before they develop bad habits out of high-risk behavior.
  • Learning To Move While On The Move: One way to help in keeping the hundreds of thousands of workers delivering packages from developing musculoskeletal injuries is to make training tips accessible. Micro-learning courses — tiny bursts of training material — can be accessed via any internet-enabled device like a laptop, tablet or smartphone. For example, a worker could pull up a refresher on how to lift properly.

Happy holidays can be had by all

The pressure to meet seasonal goals affects veterans and new workers alike. They and their employers also grapple with the knowledge that workplace injuries will likely rise over the holiday season.

With employers offering bonuses, higher pay, and even tuition reimbursement to attract and retain seasonal workers, they should also invest in injury prevention programs that teach workers how to move properly. That can keep workers happy, pain-free and highly productive.

Contact Kotlar, Hernandez & Cohen Law Offices in New Jersey today for help with workplace injuries.

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