In 2015-16, a total of 144 workers were killed as a result of a workplace accident. Falling from heights took most of the blame (26 percent), followed by being struck by a moving vehicle (19 percent) or a moving object (10 percent).
The reports also reveal that 621,000 workers sustained a non-fatal injury at work, with 200,000 of these injuries requiring more than three days off work. This amounts to an estimated total of 4.5 million lost working days. How can these high figures be reduced while creating a safer working environment? Examining the most common instances where they happen should help.
Workplace injuries can include everything from backaches to shoulder pain. The risk is increased when employees perform repetitive movements or work in an awkward posture. Keep in mind that it is less expensive to prevent injuries than it is to make changes and corrections once they have occurred.
These types of injuries can be easily prevented with some basic training. Even something as simple as proper lifting techniques can make a huge difference. You can also prevent repetitive strain injuries by employing adequate staff, encouraging regular breaks and ensuring that your equipment is well-maintained.
If your employees do a lot of heavy lifting, consider providing crates on castors that can be pulled or pushed. This will save time and make the whole process more efficient while keeping personnel safe.
Slips and trips happen far too frequently in all sorts of working environments, from classrooms to factories to offices. Gravity often plays some part in this, but it's the working environment that is generally at fault. Hazards can be created from loose mats, poor flooring, wet patches and a general lack of housekeeping.
Some measures can be taken to avoid slips and trips, including cleaning during non-working hours so floors aren't slippery while employees are present. If accidents are frequent, invest in anti-slip flooring. Individuals who work in environments with the potential for frequent spills should wear non-slip footwear designed for the specific hazards.
Lighting and signage are other factors to consider. Pathways and stairways should be well-lit with warnings for steps or uneven footing. There should also be a policy for placing a warning sign as soon as a dangerous spot of flooring is noticed.
Slipping and tripping could be categorized under falling, but falling from a height is a separate issue. Whether personnel are working on a construction site or in an office, there is a chance they may decide to use a ladder or stand on a chair to get something out of reach.
To avoid this, a practice should be put in place so employees do not use unsuitable platforms for accessing heights. Thorough instruction and training should also be provided so staff can work safely at heights. For example, a ladder should never be used for longer than 30 minutes or in adverse weather. There also needs to be plenty of space, barriers and safety nets if workers are at a great height on a construction site.
With the variety of ways people can injure themselves at work, it is difficult to prevent everything. However, with good training, clear signage and access to the necessary safety equipment, you can prevent most injuries and avoid unnecessary mishaps.
Anna Jones is an experienced and enthusiastic freelance writer who works with Tente, the specialists in high-quality wheels and castors.