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How to protect your workforce against Britain’s top 10 occupational dangers

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With over 1m workers suffering from work related accidents and illnesses, employers should be doing all that is within their power to prevent occupational dangers and protect their employers from harm. 

By familiarising yourself with the top ten dangers that UK workers face in the workplace and how you as an employer or business manager, can look to improve the environment your employees work in to keep them safe and your business’ reputation intact. 

Keep floors clean and clear

Since the RIDDOR legislation came into place in 1995 – whereby workplace accidents, incidents and diseases must be reported within ten days – the number of reported accidents at work has increased, and in 2014 simple slips and trips ranked number one in non-fatal injuries.

The most obvious things such as liquids spilt on the floor that haven’t been mopped up, a loose tile or protruding carpet, and even a light bulb that has gone out, can all create opportunities for employees to slip, fall and sustain an injury. In turn this can lead to claims being made against the business. 

Invest in some wet floor and warning signs along with a mop and bucket, keep areas clear and ensure the standard of flooring and lighting in the workplace is regularly checked, to provide a safe workplace and save the business from costly compensation claims. 

Falling fatalities

Many workplace fatalities stem from an employee falling from a great height. Working at 2m or higher off the ground puts workers at risk of a serious or fatal injury should they fall. These incidents usually occur when safety barriers are not high or stable enough, or sometimes when a business hires someone to complete a “one-off” job without providing the appropriate training or supervision.

Best practice for employers is to find a way of completing the task that doesn’t involve employees working at such height. However, in cases where working at a height is required, all employees must follow The Work at Height Regulation 2005 to fully comply with health and safety regulations and protect employees that are their responsibility.

Read more about regulation:

Preventing Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)

RSI affects workers of many industries that carry out the same task or movement everyday for a long time. Typical symptoms include pain, stiffness and tingling, and if these symptoms arise, it is your responsibility as an employer to act, before your employees fall victim to the likes of carpal tunnel syndrome or constant back and neck problems.

Simple processes in the workplace can help prevent RSI, such as allowing workers to take short regular breaks as well as their lunch break, or investing in machinery that can aid workers when heavy lifting. 

First Aid should be made available

Cuts and burns account for another two of the top ten workplace threats, and even the slightest of injuries can result in legal issues if the company is to blame. To protect employees and your business’ reputation, always have a fully stocked first aid box available, ensure that at least two employees are qualified in first aid training, and prevent those employees who are not trained from assisting the injured, as they could end up causing more harm than good.

Training and supervision is imperative

Toppling accidents, impact injuries and fume inhalation are usually incurred as a result of safety procedures not being followed correctly due to improper training and supervision. Each of these accidents and injuries can often be fatal, so training prior to beginning work and at regular intervals throughout employment is crucial, to fully protect every worker.

Preventing toppling accidents can be as simple as maintaining the quality of any units in the workplace as well as basic training for employees on how to stack properly. Those working with moving machinery or vehicles are at risk of impact and crushing should employers fail to provide sufficient training before starting work and when being overworked. Look at implementing short, regular breaks for employees throughout the day as well as updating training on an annual or six month basis.

Hearing loss is becoming an increasing concern

Exposure to constant loud noises in the workplace can over time, cause employees to fully or partially lose their hearing, which can result in costly claims being made against the business. Investing in noise reducing work accessories such as ear plugs and ear muffs can be a lot less costly than forking out for compensation, as well as any losses the business will incur when employees have to call in sick or go to hospital.

Mental health shouldn’t be ignored

Over 400,000 workers suffer from stress, anxiety and depression and these numbers are increasing year upon year. Working environments and expectations can be partly to blame and so mental health in the workplace is something that cannot be ignored. Employers should be doing all that is within their power to ensure both the physical and mental health of their employees.

Training managers and supervisors need to identify and handle situations where an employee is showing signs of stress, anxiety or depression is the first step that businesses should take to preventing mental illness in the workplace and any accidents that might occur as a result. Not only that but planning and implementing ways to prevent employees becoming overworked can not only help them, but save your business from the risk of overworked employees making mistakes.

Businesses should take a proactive approach rather than a reactive one when considering the accidents and injuries that occur in the workplace. Understanding the most common causes of these accidents and injuries is the first step to preventing them and protecting your employees and your business. 

Rachel Campbell is a content writer for Sheldon Davidson Solicitors.

Image: Shutterstock

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