By law, all employers are required to conduct a risk assessment of their workplace and put measures in place to create a safe working environment for their workers and visitors. If your employer is negligent in their duty and you are injured because of their negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. However, while you may receive monetary compensation for your injuries, a lot of damage may already have been done.
When it comes to workplace safety, employers and workers should take equal responsibility. Workers can do their part to ensure safety in the workplace by being aware of and heeding safety instructions, understanding their rights, and staying informed about common workplace accidents and how to avoid them so we’ve put together a list of some of the most common causes of workplace accidents in the UK and how you can avoid each of them.
You’d hardly think of housekeeping as a hazard in the workplace but the fact is a cluttered workplace is a dangerous workplace. Oil and liquid spills that are not mopped up immediately increase the risk of slip and fall injuries. Debris on the floor, improper footwear, and weather conditions also contribute to slip and fall injuries.
Larger objects and loose cables lying around carelessly are the main causes of trip and fall accidents in the workplace.
Wearing footwear that’s appropriate for that particular workplace, mopping up spills immediately, clearing debris off the floor, tidying up loose cables, and making sure all walkways are clear of obstacles are some of the ways to prevent slip, trip, and fall injuries in the workplace.
Improper Lifting Techniques
All employers are required to train their employees in proper work techniques, especially when it comes to lifting heavy objects. They are also required (in some circumstances) to provide belts that are specially designed to protect the back and muscles when lifting.
Workers can protect themselves from lifting injuries by following safe lifting practices and making sure they have their belt on while lifting heavy items. If an object is too heavy for one person to carry alone then don’t attempt it alone.
Inadequate Personal Protective Equipment
Every workplace has its own unique set of risks. Employers are required to provide workers with the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect them against these risks. Depending on the industry, PPE may include eye protection goggles, protective masks, high-visibility jackets, ear protection mufflers, protective overalls, safety harnesses, steel-toe boots and hard hats.
In addition to providing workers with personal protective equipment, employers are also required to educate workers on the proper use and handling of their PPE.
Workers on the other hand are responsible for making sure that they understand and follow the instructions for wearing their personal protective equipment. They must also make sure that their PPE fits properly, is well-maintained, and will provide them with the protection they need. Hard hats that don’t fit snugly, eye goggles that slip off, worn-out protective masks are ineffective and must be replaced immediately.
If you have been provided with defective or sub-standard personal protective equipment and are injured as a result then you may want to read our advice on PPE compensation claims.
Overexertion injuries are common to all types of jobs across all workplaces.
In manufacturing plants or construction sites, overexertion injuries are primarily physical. Workers may suffer from these types of injuries from extended hours of nonstop lifting, pushing, pulling, carrying, or hauling activities at work.
Workers must make sure that they take regular adequate breaks during their work hours. That’s the only sure way to prevent overexertion injuries in the workplace, although specialist equipment should also help.
Hazardous materials are routinely used in many industries. While their use may be necessary in these industries, without adequate protective measures workers are at risk of toxic exposure. In some cases the exposure may be due to an accident while handling the material, in other cases, the exposure may be slow and unnoticeable until it is too late.
Employers are required to educate their employees on the potential hazards of exposure to the substance and provide training on proper handling techniques. Employees working with hazardous materials must take the time to educate themselves on the risk of exposure, how to stay safe, and the first aid measures in case of accidental exposure. Wearing proper protective personal equipment such as face masks, safety goggles and gloves is important.
Falling From Height
All too often we see window washers and construction workers perched dangerously several feet above the floor without adequate safety measures. Many times this is because experienced workers feel overconfident in their ability to perform the job and throw caution to the wind. However, the risk level remains the same, regardless of a worker’s experience level.
Common reasons for fall from height accidents include working on a high unstable surface, overreaching while standing on a high rung of a ladder, using an unsteady ladder, and working on a high surface without a proper safety harness.
The best way to prevent fall from height accidents is by making adhering to the safety measures appropriate for that particular task. Workers whose jobs involve working at height must ensure that they have an adequate safety harness and that the ladder they are using is right for the job and in good condition and properly footed.
Experience often makes workers careless. When someone has done a particular job repetitively for several years without incident, they often resort to taking shortcuts. This can increase the risk of accidents in the workplace, especially when handling powerful machinery or overlooking safety procedures.
Regulations are put in place after carrying out a thorough risk assessment of a workplace. Adhering to all regulations, no matter how trivial they may seem, will make the workplace safer for all employees.