When you’re running a company, the last thing you want is workplace accidents and employees getting hurt on the job. But there’s always a risk for accidents, and the consequences go beyond physical injuries.
If an employee has an accident and gets hurt, they will, of course, have to take time off so they can recover. This means that the rest of your staff will have to take over their workload. Even in the best circumstances, it’s not likely that you will have the same degree of productivity. Moreover, if this is a common occurrence and not just an isolated incident, you’ll be pushing your company into a vicious cycle where the added pressure from employees having to take time off makes your remaining staff take time off as well.
It can also lead to a higher turnover because they don’t feel that you value their wellbeing, which affects morale and loyalty to the company. Understandably, people want to work in a place where they feel safe and appreciated.
From a legal standpoint, it’s your responsibility as your employer to protect their health and safety, and failing to do so will lead to investigations, government sanctions, and lawsuits. If any of your employees get injured, they have the right to ask for compensation. Depending on the accident’s cause and the severity of the injuries, a single lawsuit can even result in bankruptcy. If the incident is made public, it can have a disastrous effect on your reputation, making it hard for potential clients and investors to trust you. You can read learn more about the legal implications of occupational injuries and workers compensation at How-To-Claim.co.uk.
If we look back only a few decades, we can see clear examples of a lack of respect for health and safety in the workplace. Think of crowded factories full of hazards and poor safety procedures. Luckily, major policy reforms have confined these images to a bygone era. Nowadays, in the UK, all employers have a legal duty to respect stringent occupational health and safety regulations.
However, that implies more than printing rules and instructions on paper and handing them out to your employees. If you want a successful health and safety program, you need employee engagement. Your staff needs to understand these rules and why they need to follow them. This can only be achieved through open and consistent dialogue.
In this article, we will take a look at some of the most common causes of accidents and injuries in the workplace and the strategies you can use to prevent them.
Slips, Trips, and Falls
As you probably already know, some industries and professions are inherently more dangerous. Having said that, the accidents we will cover in this section can happen in any sort of working environment. Slips, trips, and falls are the cause of a third of workplace injuries. They can lead to sprains, pulled muscles, injuries to the head, neck, and back, broken bones, and cuts.
Most often, they happen because employees slip on wet or oily surfaces or they trip on obstructions on the walking paths like uncovered cables, loose rugs or wrinkled carpeting. They’re also more likely to occur when the workload forces employees to rush, making them less likely to notice these risk factors.
To prevent injuries caused by slips, trips and falls, you need to minimize the risk factors we mentioned above. Have someone regularly check the walkways for obstructions and encourage your employees to report any risks so you can take measures quickly. Your employees will also need training on safety procedures, so they know how to avoid these accidents and what to do if they do occur.
Lifting, Handling, or Carrying
Another common cause of workplace accidents is handling heavy objects. We’ve all been told at least a few times to lift with our knees and not with our backs. That proves that the proper procedures don’t come naturally, which is why so many employees can hurt themselves while lifting, handling, and carrying something.
To minimize this risk, they will need training so they can learn the correct techniques. Depending on how common this task is and how heavy the loads, they might also need the training to learn how to use equipment or cooperate with other staff members when handling items above a certain weight or volume.
These injuries are especially dangerous since they can lead to chronic back problems that can affect a person’s ability to work or even perform day-to-day activities, so the goal of this training should be to teach your employees techniques to minimize the stress on their bodies.
Falls from Height
Whenever an employee needs to work from height, there’s always a risk that they might fall and get injured. Unfortunately, falls from height are one of the main causes of fatal injuries.
To minimize the risk, any work that involves heights needs to be carefully assessed and planned. The equipment they use to reach height, such as a ladder or scaffolding, needs to be regularly inspected.
The employees need to receive personal protective equipment and specialized training. You can read the detailed safety procedures in the Work at Height Regulations 2005.
Injuries from Repetitive Stress and Overexertion
Making the same motion over and over again puts stress on your nerves, tendons and muscles and can lead to developing a musculoskeletal disorder. Musculoskeletal disorders can cause numbness, stiffness, weakness, swelling, and pain, making it difficult for someone to work or even do basic day-to-day activities.
To reduce the risk, you have to make sure that the workstations your employees use are ergonomically sound. If they have to perform the same motion repeatedly, they must be able to maintain a correct and comfortable posture.
You’ll also need to plan a schedule that gives them enough breaks so they can stretch and rest. Breaks are crucial when trying to prevent workplace accidents. Fatigue affects a person’s mental acuity, which includes their ability to focus and reflexes. Without adequate breaks, they’re more likely to not notice a safety risk, and they’re also less likely to react fast enough to prevent it.