The most common workplace accidents and the reasons for them occurring are two sides of the same coin. While there are absolutely cases of freak accidents causing harm that no one could have averted it’s also true that, without the hazards that often go unnoticed and unaddressed, there would be far fewer incidences of workers becoming seriously hurt or injured while at work.
According to the HSE’s report on non-fatal injuries during 2018/19, the most common causes of accidents at work are:
Slips, trips or falls
Just what it says on the tin – this type of accident occurs when there are tripping hazards on the workspace floor, which ordinarily occurs with an untidy or disorganised environment. Similarly, slips commonly happen when floors are wet, perhaps without a warning sign erected to warn those nearby of the increased risk.
Handling, lifting or carrying
Handling heavy objects without proper training can be a recipe for disaster, with workers suffering from an injury or in some cases long-term chronic neck, back and spine issues. Formal instruction on how to bend, lift and carry with minimum stress on the body can help here, or the introduction of equipment to reduce the need for doing the job manually.
Struck by moving object
This is a wide-ranging category that covers everything from objects coming loose from a higher surface, to vehicles striking workers or pedestrians.
Acts of violence
Some job roles require employees to regularly interact with the public and with this comes the danger that they will find themselves in a violent situation. Those in the retail industry or someone working as a security guard are just two examples where this type of risk is most prevalent.
Falls from Height
Another self-explanatory one. Falls from height are any instances where an employee is required to work from high places and is thus at risk of falling. ‘Height’ in this case is often categorized as anywhere above ground level and can lead to serious injury should the proper precautions not be put in place.
The question employers often ask first regarding accidents in the workplace is how much time is lost because of them. It’s an understandable concern – while almost all employers want to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their staff first and foremost, they also need to look at the impact on their bottom lines.
The HSE reports that an estimated 28.2 million working days are lost because of illness or non-fatal workplace accidents in 2018/19. The average number of missed days for each person suffering from an issue was 15.1 days.
An important thing to note about these sobering figures is the reasons behind many of those lost days. While 8.1 days were due to injuries, a massive 21.2 days were due to stress, depression or anxiety. This of course highlights the need to take care of the overall wellbeing of employees, rather than merely focusing on physical health.
In addition, 13.8 days were due to musculoskeletal disorders, which can in some cases be caused by handling, lifting or carrying incidents outlined above. This is particularly common in manual labour roles where lifting heavy objects is a job requirement.
Outside of days lost directly due to injury or illness, there’s also the time sacrificed to subsequent injury at work claim procedures, which can occur if an employer has not done their due diligence when it comes to mitigating risk.
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