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April 01, 2014
National Safety Council releases report on top injury causes

Are you focusing your workplace safety program on the most serious hazards? You may be surprised to learn the top causes of injuries and fatalities. Keep reading to learn more.

The National Safety Council (NSC) has released the 2014 issue of its Injury Facts, which details safety trends across the U.S. and worldwide. Among the more surprising statistics, NSC found that poisonings, including those from unintentional prescription painkiller overdoses, were the leading cause of death in 18 states and Washington, D.C. 

Other leading causes of injury

Also according to NSC:

  • Cell phone use is now estimated to be involved in 26 percent of all motor vehicle crashes, which is up from the previous year.
  • An estimated five percent of cell-phone-related crashes involve texting, while 21 percent involve drivers talking on handheld or hands-free phones.
  • Motor vehicle crashes remain the top cause of death for teens, although the number of teen vehicle occupant deaths is down.
  • Unintentional injuries cost more than $790 billion annually.
  • The most costly lost-time workers’ compensation claims involve injuries to the head or central nervous system.
  • The number of elder adult falls has spiked 112 percent since 1999.
  • Motor vehicle deaths in 2012 (the last year studied) were at their lowest level in February and at their highest in July.
  • The three-day-period round New Year’s Day was the holiday period with the highest percentage of alcohol-impaired driving deaths.

What can you do about prescription painkiller abuse?

According to the CDC, 100 people die each day in the U.S. from drug overdoses—the rate has more than tripled since 1990. The CDC points to “a growing, deadly epidemic of prescription painkiller abuse,” with three out of four prescription drug overdoses caused by painkillers, also called opioid pain relievers. More than three out of four people who misuse these painkillers are using drugs prescribed to someone else.

Employers should educate supervisors on the risk of prescription drug abuse and communicate to workers the impact on safety and the danger of working impaired. Share these simple steps with your employees to help them avoid this dangerous form of drug abuse:

  • Take medications as directed.
  • Consult your doctor before increasing or decreasing doses.
  • Don’t crush or break pills.
  • Know about any interactions of your medication with other drugs, including alcohol and over-the-counter medications.
  • Inform your doctor about past substance use.
  • Don’t share or borrow pills.
  • Securely store and count pills, as many teens and young adults get their drugs from the family medicine cabinet.
  • To dispose of unused medications, mix them with an undesirable substance like used kitty litter or coffee grounds in a sealed container or return them to an authorized take-back program.

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