Accidents can happen anywhere, anytime – and workplaces are no exception. In fact, accidents at work are among the most common causes of injuries resulting in personal injury claims. But keeping your focus and doing things right could spare you the unfortunate pain and trouble of workplace injuries.
A split-second mistake can change your life forever. You don’t have to be at fault either; many work accidents can occur due to somebody else’s negligence. No matter your workplace role, you can still be in danger of an injury, such as tripping over an obstacle or suffering a repetitive strain injury.
Even though most employers will take great care in providing you with the best safety measures and a safe work environment, the unfortunate and unforeseen can still occur. Some injuries can have long-term physical, emotional, and financial effects on you.
In this guide, we will discuss the importance of understanding how to avoid injuries and what are the most common causes of workplace accidents.
Most common causes of workplace accidents
In many cases, an accident is an unfortunate freak incident that is not any specific person’s fault and could not have been easily prevented. However, sometimes accidents are caused by an employer’s failure to observe their duty of care to provide a safe working environment.
Here we will look at some of the most common accidents that happen in the workplace and could result in an accident at work claim:
Slips, trips and falls
33% of injuries in the workplace are from slips, trips and falls (excluding falls from heights). Housekeeping is one of the most important safety precautions to remove obstacles which could cause a tripping hazard.
Slips at work also happen frequently on wet floors and spillages without warning signs. With a large percentage of injuries resulting from slips, trips and falls, it’s essential to keep the workplace free from any hazards that may lead to these types of accidents.
Handling, lifting, and carrying
You may be required to move, lift or carry heavy objects in certain job roles. Your employer should provide the proper training and tools to minimise the risk of injury. You should be aware of the limits on the weight you are allowed to carry and the correct manner in which objects need to be moved or carried safely. Simply picking up one heavy object incorrectly with daily repetition could lead to permanent back injuries later on.
Training is therefore crucial in the workplace to ensure that you are not damaging your neck, back or shoulders by carrying or moving objects that are too heavy. In many industries and workplaces, such as factories and building sites, machinery is now used more frequently to reduce the strain of heavy lifting.
Struck by a moving object
You could be in danger of being struck by a moving object in almost any line of work. One of the biggest dangers is being hit by an object falling from a height, such as falling from a shelving unit. Materials can also fall from scaffolding or other platforms used to work at height.
Being struck by a moving object also includes forklift truck accidents or being hit with a trolley or pallet truck. These types of accidents can cause significant injuries and can be fatal, particularly if the moving object strikes an employee on the head.
Acts of violence
Acts of violence can be unexpected and unfortunate, but they are a common occurrence in certain industries, particularly in retail and security. Employees interacting directly with the public are at a higher risk of encountering violent situations for various reasons.
Customers could turn violent if they are unhappy with the service provided in retail shops. Security guards and door staff, in particular, may need to handle violent outbursts from members of the public. It is important for employers to provide adequate training and safety measures to help employees handle these situations safely and effectively.
Falls from height
If you work in construction, you must follow the necessary safety measures to protect yourself from falls from heights. Heights are considered as any floor level above ground level. Falling from a height could lead to serious and sometimes even fatal injuries, depending on the distance. Employers must ensure the correct safety precautions are in place to protect employees against falls.
Reporting accidents in the workplace
Your employer should have a reliable system in place for reporting accidents and injuries. The reporting system should help you to report your injury (or a co-worker’s) and potential hazards that might cause an accident.
Reporting potential risks and keeping track of accidents that have already occurred can help managers and employers conduct risk assessments more accurately. The recorded data is essential for planning the necessary changes for a safer work environment with less chance of injury.
It’s also important to record an accident in situations where you may want to pursue compensation for an injury sustained at work through no fault of your own. Failure to report your accident to the relevant person at your workplace could hamper your chance of making a successful claim.
If your employer does not have a reporting system in place, you should at least make them aware of your accident, either verbally or written, and then consult a solicitor for further advice.
Why do workplace injuries occur?
Workplace injuries occur for many different reasons, but the most likely culprit is a lack of the necessary safety precautions. Employers are responsible for ensuring the safety of their employees and should actively inform them of any potential safety or health hazards.
In larger organisations, safety officers should be on-site, and they should advise you on the safety measures needed to protect yourself against injury.
Thankfully, most employers have the necessary safety precautions in place to prevent employees from harm. However, accidents can still happen, even if you follow the correct procedures down to the letter.
According to the Labour Force Survey, 441,000 employees in the UK sustained non-fatal injuries in 2021. Approximately 51,000 of these injuries resulted in employees being absent from work for at least seven days.
How to avoid getting injured at work?
To avoid getting injured at work, following proper safety measures and training for your specific job duties is essential. Your employer should provide you with the necessary safety equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE), such as helmets, gloves, and hearing protection, to minimise the risk of injury.
In addition to following proper safety procedures, reporting potential hazards or safety concerns to your employer is also important. Conducting regular risk assessments can help identify potential dangers and implement measures to minimise these risks.
Remember, preventing workplace injuries is a shared responsibility between employers and employees. By following proper safety measures and reporting any concerns, you can help create a safer work environment for everyone.
What’s the average number of work hours lost due to accidents at work?
Workplace injuries not only cause physical and emotional harm but can also result in lost work hours and financial strain. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), an estimated 28.2 million working days were lost due to non-fatal workplace accidents and illnesses in the UK in 2018 and 2019. This equates to an average of around 15 days lost for each worker who was injured or became sick.
One of the most common causes of lost work hours due to workplace accidents is musculoskeletal disorders caused by handling, lifting, and carrying objects that are too heavy or moved incorrectly. The HSE estimates that musculoskeletal disorders account for 41% of all work-related illnesses, leading to an average of 13.8 days lost per employee in the UK.
In addition to physical injuries, mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and stress can also contribute to lost work hours. The HSE reported that these issues accounted for around 54% of all work-related illnesses in the UK in 2018 and 2019, leading to an estimated 17.9 million lost workdays.
It’s important to note that these statistics represent only the reported cases of workplace injuries and illnesses. Many workplace accidents go unreported, and the actual number of lost work hours due to workplace accidents and illnesses is likely higher.
Stay safe in the workplace
You should always be doing your utmost to keep yourself safe from injury. Although nobody expects to be injured at work, it is an unfortunate possibility. If you do happen to get injured in the workplace, no matter how minor, you should report it to your employer or safety officer to raise awareness of the hazard.
If you have suffered an accident at work, a personal injury solicitor can offer guidance and support in claiming compensation for your injuries. For a free consultation with a legal adviser, call 0800 678 1410, or fill in our online claim form if you would prefer a callback.