Serious workplace injuries are far too common and there are a range of accidents and injuries which occur across all occupational sectors. People working in different types of jobs face a range of different hazards. For example, an office worker is at much less risk from burns than a chef.
What we do know is, 144 workers were killed at work in 2015/16 and 621,000 estimated non fatal injuries to workers were reported, equating to an astonishing 4.5 million estimated working days being lost. The workplace can be an extremely hazardous place and not only is it the employer’s responsibility to ensure a safe working environment; each employee also has a responsibility to take caution when on the job.
But to be forewarned is to be forearmed, as the saying goes, so here are ten of the most common accidents and injuries in the workplace:
1.Slips, trips and falls
Focus on the risks that really matter within your workplace – the ones with the potential to cause harm. In many instances, straightforward measures can readily control risks, for example, ensuring spillages are cleaned up promptly so people do not slip, or cupboard drawers are kept closed to ensure people do not trip. For most, that means simple, cheap and effective measures to ensure your most valuable asset – your workforce – is protected.
Strained muscles are another common work-related injury, as anyone who regularly lifts heavy items at work will probably know already. Back and neck strains, in particular, are all too frequently sustained while working. These injuries can be avoided easily – some basic training on proper lifting techniques can make a big difference.
3.Being hit by falling objects
Falling or flying objects in a workplace can expose workers to relatively minor injuries, such as cuts or abrasions, as well as more serious injuries such as concussions or blindness.
4.Repetitive strain injury
RSI is a problem that’s become increasingly common at work over the years, and can be caused by a variety of tasks, such as forceful or repetitive activity, or by poor posture.
The condition mostly affects parts of the upper body, such as the forearm, elbow, wrist, hands, shoulders and neck. The cumulative impact of RSI can be severe in some cases, so it makes sense to take precautions.
5. Crashes and collisions
Accidents resulting in crash or impact injuries are quite frequent. Whether they involve cars, lorries or even smaller vehicles such as forklift trucks, they can have serious consequences. It’s therefore up to employers to ensure that seatbelts and other safety precautions are both in place and in use where appropriate.
6. Cuts and lacerations
All sorts of office implements can end up leaving their user nursing a painful cut. From power saws to paper trimmers, it’s easy to do yourself a mischief at work. The most common causes of these lacerations include poor training, inadequate safety procedures and failing to wear the proper protection.
Employers can help prevent such accidents by providing adequate safety equipment and putting the right procedures, including training, in place.
7. Inhaling toxic fumes
The air in many workplaces contains hazardous substances in the form of dusts, fumes, mists, gases and vapours. While most of us don’t work with hazardous chemicals those of us who do, without protection, may be at risk of impairment to breathing, skin or eye reactions as well as potentially more serious injuries. Employers must provide workers with the correct workwear, including goggles and fitted face masks, to avoid dangerous exposure.
8. Exposure to loud noise
Noise at work can cause hearing damage that is permanent and disabling. This can be hearing loss that is gradual because of exposure to noise over time, but also damage caused by sudden, extremely loud noises. Industrial deafness can also result in major compensation payouts further along the line, so it’s very much in employers’ interest to nip this particular problem in the bud. Safety measures such as ear protection can help to prevent it.
9. Walking into objects
It’s probably safe to say we’ve all done this at some point. Maybe you’re chatting absent-mindedly or maybe you’re feeling a little under the weather, when you suddenly find yourself on the sharp end of a door, table, wall or cabinet. Needless to say, these injuries can hurt.
Luckily, such accidents can be avoided by reminding employees to be vigilant and moving unnecessary hazards out of the way where people can’t walk into them.
10. Fights at work
‘Fight, fight, fight’! We’ve all heard that chant in the school playground when kids are about to engage in some kind of altercation. However you wouldn’t expect this to go on within the Workplace…
Simmering workplace tensions can bubble under for months or even years before spilling over into physical confrontation, or alternatively one workmate can take another’s opinion on last weekend’s football the wrong way. Fights in the workplace can, unsurprisingly, result in nasty injuries. Effective procedures for dealing with employee grievances can help reduce the risk of them coming to blows though.
In many cases, accidents are not just caused by a small mistake or a simple mishap from a busy worker. Many workplace accidents are tied to employer or employee negligence. Although there’s no shortage of ways people can injure themselves at work, we do know there are various procedures employers can put in place to prevent employees from coming to any avoidable harm.
Training, signage and access to the necessary safety equipment can all be a big help, with regular risk assessments being a necessity within the workplace to help to avoid unnecessary mishaps.