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The true costs of a work-related injury

Thursday, November 1, 2018 - 07:00
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Now that we’ve discussed your direct costs if you get hurt in a workplace incident, it’s time to look at some of your indirect costs. These oftentimes are expenses that you can’t put a dollar value on; in other words, priceless! And, just like indirect costs for your employer, these are the ones that will have the biggest impact on you and your family.

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Loss of quality time — There are all sorts of activities that you enjoy with friends and family when you are away from work. Many of these are physical in nature, such as sports and outdoor endeavors, and you may not be able to participate in these at the same level (or not at all) if you are disabled due to a workplace injury. Think carefully about this; how much enjoyment do you derive from being able to recreate with those who are closest to you? It is an understatement to say that watching from the sidelines isn’t the same.

Physical pain and suffering — There are many minor injuries that heal up and don’t seem to have a lasting impact in terms of physical pain. However, a serious injury can leave the worker with chronic pain and the potential to develop a dependence on painkillers. If you know someone that is suffering from an addiction to opiates or other controlled substances, you can testify to the misery that they inflict on themselves and those that are closest to them.

Alienation — A workplace injury can leave you with a lot of spare time. Too much time on your hands can lead to your mind wandering to places it shouldn’t go, and one of those places is self-accusation. You are your own worst critic, and your self-esteem tends to take a pounding when you aren’t earning your living the way you feel you should. This directly impacts your relationships with your loved ones and friends, only magnifying the suffering you are experiencing.

Take care of yourself

I would suggest that those who assume inappropriate risk in the workplace haven’t thought very carefully about the ramifications. To quote a famous phrase, “It isn’t about you.” Dangerous shortcuts or negligence that takes place in the name of getting a job done right away could lead to terrible consequences for your family and your coworkers. You can make simple changes in your work practices that will help you, your family, and friends prosper. Here is a short list of items that you might consider:

  1. Discipline yourself to wear the appropriate PPE during the workday. This includes safety glasses, hard-toe boots with metatarsal guards, gloves and face shields.
  2. Don’t make peace with malfunctioning equipment, especially when safety is involved. For example, are you willing to work underneath an automotive lift if the safety catches are inoperative?
  3. Don’t walk by safety issues such as slippery floors without doing something about them.
  4. Think carefully before lifting heavy objects. Is there a safe way to lift it by hand, or is it time to put a jack or hoist to work?

I encourage you to do the right thing and think beyond yourself when you are making critical safety decisions at work. You won’t regret taking the time to do it right when you enter your retirement years injury-free!

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