Hazards In The Workplace: Health & Safety Tips

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Thankfully, most workplaces are safe and work-related injuries are rare.

But Health & Safety Executive data shows that there were still 51,211 non-fatal injuries reported by employers between 2020-21. And that only represents the tip of the iceberg. The Labour Force Survey (LFS) shows there were another 441,000 self-reported injuries during the same period. So that brings the total to 492,211 non-fatal injuries at work in twelve months.

That means approximately 1 in 65 of the UK workforce are injured at work each year. Fortunately, the rate of injuries has been falling year on year for the past decade. But the number is still high, especially when you consider most of these injuries are avoidable. One of the best ways to avoid injury is to recognise where the risks are so that you can mitigate them. So in this article, let’s look at the top five hazards in the workplace and the steps you can take to prevent them.

1. Trips, slips and falls

Trips, slips and falls represent 33% of all non-fatal injuries making them the most common causes of injury in the workplace. Fortunately, this type of injury can easily be avoided with better observance and training.

Tips to prevent them:

One of the most effective ways of mitigating slips is to implement the Slip Potential Model. This factors in contamination, cleaning, people, flooring type, environment and footwear to reduce the risk of trips and falls. While trips can be mitigated by implementing the Trip Potential Triangle. This looks at walkways, housekeeping and design & maintenance practices to identify areas for improvement.

2. Fire hazards

Fire hazards are a significant issue for every work place building, especially those that deal with flammable materials. Home Office data shows that the Fire Service is called to attend around 300 work-related fires a week in the United Kingdom. For the year 2017/18 these incidents resulted in 17 fatalities and 892 non-fatal injuries.

Tips to prevent them:

The best way to prevent injuries from fire is to prepare a fire safety plan. This should include the installation of fire detection and suppression equipment including smoke detectors, emergency lighting and fire extinguishers. All employees should also be made aware of what to do in the event of a fire and regular fire drills should take place. A responsible member of staff should also be designated as a fire safety officer to ensure all aspects of the fire safety plan are implemented properly. To help protect employees and reduce greater risks, all flammables and chemicals should be properly stored in hazardous storage cabinets. Fully compliant with UK legislation, there are plenty of storage solutions available for businesses to safely secure their flammable stock.

3. Falling objects

According to HSE data, injuries from falling objects represent around 10% of all workplace injuries. That equates to around 700 people a year being injured as a result of falling objects, with about 100 of these being serious injuries. Approximately one-third of falling object injuries are the result of items falling from shelves or racking. A further third result from falling hand tools (especially knives) and the final third are injured from things falling from pallet/forklift trucks.

Tips to prevent them:

The best way to prevent this type of injury is to carry out a workplace risk assessment of the dangers that exist in your workplace. You can then put measures in place to mitigate them. Options include; training on handling and stacking boxes and providing protective clothing for hand tool use.

4. Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI)

Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI) are estimated to affect about 470,000 workers in the United Kingdom. These are mostly caused by carrying out repetitive tasks on production lines or construction sites. But computer workers are not immune from RSI. Prolonged clicking of a mouse can cause musculoskeletal disorders such as arm and neck strain, spinal asymmetry and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Tips to prevent them:

You can reduce RSI by making employees aware of the risks and training them to maintain good posture. Employees at risk should also be encouraged to take regular breaks from repetitive tasks. If office workers have been sitting at a desk, typing or clicking for too long, they should take a break from their desk to stretch and take a well-needed break.