The emphasis on safety in the workplace has been moved onto social distancing and regular hand cleaning in light of the current pandemic. While clean hands will help you avoid Coronavirus it doesn’t do much for other workplace hazards.
Recent numbers from HSE have shown that for 2019/2020, close to 700,000 workers sustained injuries on the job. Of those, 65,427 were serious enough to be reported to RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations).
According to these findings, the most likely causes of non-fatal workplace accidents were:
- Slips, trips and falls on the same level
- Handling, lifting or carrying
- Being struck by a moving object
- Falls from height
- Workplace violence
Fatal accidents have steadily been decreasing over the years but we are still in triple figures, with 111 recorded for 2019/2020. Falls from heights are the leading cause of fatal injuries, affecting mostly individuals in the construction industry, followed by forestry, fishing and agriculture.
While there is no denying that certain industries are more dangerous than others, it may surprise you to find that across the board, construction is, in some ways, one of the safest professions. In fact, hairdressers are one of the most at-risk groups of workers when it comes to non-fatal accidents in the workplace – those scissors are sharp after all. Hairdressers are 7 times more likely to have an accident than a carpenter. We should also spare a thought for personal trainers who are considered to be three times as likely to hurt themselves on the job as a bricklayer.
Following procedures and safety precautions should help you avoid the more common workplace accidents. It can be easy to forget proper lifting techniques when you are in a hurry, but you do so at your own risk. Similarly, falls from heights can be prevented thanks to safety harnesses. You have a right to be safe at work; effective safety equipment is also a right, not a privilege.
The majority of the accident at work claims that Thompsons Scotland deal with are down to negligence on an employer’s part. So it is truly in their best interest to improve safety standards. If your workplace is unsafe your employer has a responsibility to make it better. You, as an employee, also have a responsibility to report unsafe working conditions.
Your first step should be to report your concerns to your immediate supervisor. Most businesses will have a procedure for safety concerns so this may mean that you are asked to submit a written report outlining the unsafe conditions. If you are part of a union, then find out who your safety representative is and report the situation to them.
If none of these avenues is successful you can reach out to HSE either online or by telephone. They will need to take your details, but you can ask them not to disclose this information to your employer if they contact them.
Coronavirus has certainly brought new challenges to the workplace this year but we cannot allow it to make us complacent to the other dangers that exist. Hopefully, the number of accidents in the workplace will continue to fall and the statistics for 2020/2021 will be even more encouraging.