The most common workplace accidents and how to avoid them

The most common workplace accidents and how to avoid them

Make your business happier, healthier, and more profitable

When you discuss workplace health and safety in team meetings, perhaps as you are developing your health and safety policy, you probably focus on the dangers of injury to workers and visitors. While health and safety is a much wider topic than this, reducing workplace injuries should be a priority in UK businesses.

Injuries cause absences from work, damage reputations, and reduce productivity. Fewer workplace injuries translate to happier workforces and better profits – just two of the game-changing benefits of an effective health and safety policy.

How much do workplace injuries cost the UK economy?

After declining in the 10 years to 2010, the number of injuries in UK workplaces have flattened out since (though, worryingly, they appear to be rising in the last two years). In 2016/17, there were 5.5 million working days lost due to non-fatal injuries at work. The financial cost of these injuries is astounding:

If a workplace injury is caused by the employer’s negligence, then compensation claims, fines and court costs can explode these costs to you as the employer. (Read our article “7 health and safety mistakes that you will get sued for” to discover just how much poor H&S practices could cost you.)

The seven most common workplace injuries account for seven out of 10 non-fatal injuries at work. If these injuries could be avoided, the benefit to the UK economy and individual businesses would be huge. What are these injuries, and how can you avoid them? Read on…

1.      Handling, lifting, or carrying

Accounting for around 20% of all workplace injuries, incorrect lifting and handling techniques result in muscle strains. Back and neck injuries are most common. Basic training in lifting and handling techniques has a big positive impact.

2.      Slips, trips, and falls on the same level

These accidents are, perhaps, the easiest to avoid, and yet are almost as common as handling, lifting, and carrying injuries. Often, the measures needed to avoid slips, trips and falls are straightforward: mop up spillages; replace lifted carpets; ensure items are not left on floors; etc.

Good working practices, and an attention to safety rather than speed, is an element of workplace culture that will reduce these injuries.

3.      Struck by moving objects

Being struck by moving objects can lead to minor cuts, abrasions, and bruises, but also to concussion and blindness. Ensure your employees are aware of the risks, and that you provide all necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) to reduce the risk of injury (for example,hard hats, safety goggles, footwear, and gloves).

4.      Contact with moving machinery

Wherever there is moving machinery, there is risk. Non-fatal injuries in this category range from cuts and bruises to broken limbs and paralysis. The causes are usually poor training, poor safety procedures, inadequate guarding on machinery, and failure to wear PPE.

5.      Falls from height

Accounting for a fraction more than 7% of workplace injuries, falls from height are often caused by:

  • Inexperience of employees working at height
  • Overloading and overreaching
  • Inadequate safety procedures and equipment

Ensure you comply with the Working at Height rules, including:

  • Avoiding working at height if possible
  • Ensuring that all safety precautions have been taken
  • Ensuring the right equipment is in place to minimise the consequences of a fall

6.      Acts of violence

This may surprise you, but workplace violence is in the top seven as causes of injury at work. Tension builds over a long period of time and can explode into violence unexpectedly. To reduce this risk, you should ensure that you have a strong and transparent grievance procedure.

7.      Striking a stationary object

Ever stubbed a toe, of given yourself a dead leg by walking into a door or table at home? The same thing happens at work. If only we weren’t distracted, and concentrated more when walking. In the workplace, make sure your employees remain vigilant, and reduce the opportunity for absent-minded injuries like these by keeping unnecessary hazards out of the way.

How do you start avoiding these common accidents?

The majority of all these accidents and the injuries they cause can be avoided. In many cases, the accident is the fault of the employer – either because of poor health and safety policies or negligence. The way to avoid being one of these employers is to ensure you take health and safety seriously:

  • Make sure your workplace is set up to avoid accidents
  • Use signage to warn of hazards
  • Ensure that you supply all PPE necessary, and that your employees use it
  • Train your staff in health and safety issues

The first step to achieve better health and safety at work and reduce the cost of injuries in your business is to undertake HSE risk assessments. Our comprehensive suite of H&S documents includes all the documentation you need to complete your risk assessments, develop your health and safety policy, and improve your health and safety record. For more information, contact Sentry today.

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