Sadly, too many workplace accidents occur in many different industries and environments. Despite most employers doing all they can to keep workers safe, there are some jobs and tasks that are inherently more dangerous and where more accidents do happen.
We’ve looked at some common workplace hazards and how people can avoid accidents at work from occurring.
Working at height
26% of fatal accidents at work in the UK in 2016 were as a result of falls from height and made up 6% of all workplace injuries.
Due to the nature of working at height, there are many hazards that need to be considered to keep workers safe. Full risk assessments should be undertaken of the tasks and the environment and the correct equipment should be provided to do the job properly and safely.
Scaffolding should be used if workers are expected to work at height for long periods of time. The scaffolding should be well maintained and in good repair and training should be provided to all worker to ensure they are using the scaffolding correctly to improve safety.
Ladders may be used when working at height, however, they should only be used for short periods of time and the correct ladders should be supplied for workers. You can read more about how to use ladders safely here.
Forklift trucks present hazards in many different workplaces including warehouses, factories and manufacturing. Whether it’s the risk of workers running into people whilst using the trucks, falling objects or tipping and speeding risks, there are many safety precautions that need to be considered to ensure everyone’s safety.
An increased risk of accidents can occur when for example, pedestrians and forklift trucks occupy the same area to work, or when workers haven’t received comprehensive training and when stacks haven’t been loaded or secured correctly.
Employers should also ensure that the forklift trucks provided are in good condition. Workers should regularly assess the forklift trucks for damage and wear and tear and should always check the surrounding area before moving off to ensure there are no pedestrians in the area they are planning to travel.
Wearing high visibility clothing in areas where forklift trucks are used is also recommended so people can be easily identified and avoided.
Heavy lifting and manual handling
The most common manual handling injuries are back injuries, although people can also injure other parts of their body, including sustaining broken bones and other musculoskeletal injuries.
Handling, lifting and carrying was the biggest cause of workplace injuries making up 20% of the total non-fatal accidents reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in 2016.
Employers should provide training on the correct way of lifting and handling heavy objects. Where it is unrealistic or dangerous for someone to lift or move an object, adequate equipment should be provided to safely do this (e.g. a forklift truck). Workers also should always assess an object before attempting to lift it to help to minimise injuries.
Faulty equipment and machinery
Using equipment or machinery that is faulty or not fit for the job can result in serious accidents at work. This also includes faulty safety equipment that has actually been provided to help you to do the job or indeed the provision of equipment that you have not been fully trained to use.
Work equipment should be fully checked before use and regular maintenance should be undertaken to ensure it is in the best working order and risks assessments should be undertaken to identify any hazards and minimise the risks.
Working in confined spaces
These are many hazards of working in confined spaces, the most obvious being the lack of oxygen that may be present and the build-up of gases in small spaces. However, there is also the risk of injuring yourself by hitting your body inside the confined space, including sustaining a head injury.
Confined spaces can include such things as tanks, silos, sewers and drains, vats, flues and trenches, for example. All of these should be assessed before any work is carried out and safety equipment, such as hard hats, should be provided.
People who work in factories and manufacturing and undertake repetitive activities with their body remaining in the same position for long periods of time are particularly at risk of ergonomic hazards. Such repetitive activities put strain on certain parts of the body and in the short term can result in sore muscles and aches and pains in the body, but over a long period of time can cause serious long-term problems.
You can reduce the risk of ergonomic hazards with simple adjustments to workstations and chairs and by minimising frequent lifting and awkward, repetitive movements. Also avoid using too much force for a task, especially those that are repetitive.
An employer’s main priority should always be to minimise the risks and hazards in any working environment and ensure workers are kept safe to reduce accidents at work. Unfortunately, many employers do not live up to this responsibility and many people sustain injuries at work each year.
If you have been injured in an accident at work and would like to find out about claiming compensation for your injuries, speak to one of our specialist workplace accident solicitors today. You can call us free 24 hours a day on 0800 612 7340. Start your claim here today.