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The 12 Most Common Injuries In The Workplace

Injuries at workplace

As most people spend a lot of their time at work, it’s only natural that accidents and injuries will occur in the workplace. The Health and Safety Executive Statistics for 2020-2021 show that 441,000 injuries were recorded in UK workplaces – That’s a lot of people getting hurt doing their job! 

These statistics show the importance of following proper Health & Safety procedures, having property first aid training available on site and being aware of, and ratifying potential hazards when at work. 

Read on for an overview of the 12 most common injuries you’re likely to see occur at work and the steps you and your staff can take to avoid them.

1. Muscle Strains

Muscle strains happen frequently at work. This can be in both manual roles and more desk based roles but they tend to be more common in areas of employment that require lifting and repetitive motions.

Nearly 20 percent of all injuries in the workplace in the UK are muscle strain related. Taking the approach of prevention is better than cure, you can advise your employees to take the following steps:

  • Maintain an active lifestyle and good mobility where possible
  • Don’t overexert yourself at work – always ask for help if something is too heavy for you or you think it could result in an injury
  • If you feel pain when working, stop immediately, rest until you feel better, and ask for help.
  • Never bow to pressure from colleagues or management to do something that you know will put your muscles at risk of injury.
  • Listen to your body and ignore your ego. Never try to lift something that is likely to be too heavy alone or without mechanical assistance.

2. Slips and Falls

Slips, trips and falls are also very common accidents in the workplace. The resulting injury could be anything from bruises, pulled muscles, broken bones or more serious injuries like concussion or paralysis depending on the height that the fall took place from and how the person landed.

Common reasons for slips in the workplace include surfaces that become wet with water or oil for example, or if the flooring is in poor condition without proper grip in place.

Falls from height is the leading cause of workplace deaths – and is particularly prevalent on construction sites.

To prevent falls and slips, employers should encourage their staff to wear the right footwear to work. Footwear should have good grip and be replaced when worn down. Flooring needs to be maintained well, surfaces properly and promptly cleaned after spillages occur, and proper precautions taken when working at height. This might include the use of railings for support and protection and harnesses.

Signage plays an important role in avoiding these kinds of accidents. Always use appropriate signage to warn of wet floors and the dangers of working at height.

3. Cuts and Lacerations

From paper cuts to deep lacerations from tools or machinery, cuts are another common injury that can occur in the workplace. Whilst most will be fairly minor, serious occurrences can be deep, require stitches or become infected which leads to further issues and ill health.

These injuries can and do happen in every workplace and industry. Whether you’re sitting in an office or working in a factory or selling cars – using any kind of sharp object from scissors, to knives, to tools, all carry risk.

To avoid injuries of this nature, workers should always handle sharp objects with care and employers should make sure that appropriate signage is on display in areas of particular danger, such as machinery. Make sure proper instruction is given to workers on how and when to use any machinery required in their role.

When treating these kinds of injuries, minor cuts and grazes can be treated with the organisation’s first aid kit. If severe, or bleeding can’t be stopped by applying pressure, then you should call 999 for urgent medical attention.

4. Falling Objects

When objects fall and hit people, they can cause pain and injury. This is a common type of accident on construction sites and warehouses, which is why workers in these environments are required to wear hard hats to protect their head.

Depending on the size and weight of the falling object, a hard hat might not be enough to offer full protection, so an even better way to avoid injury is to put precautions in place to prevent objects falling in the first place.

Always properly secure items on shelves, particularly if they’re above head height. Train workers on how to access difficult to reach areas, and ensure staff are given the appropriate clothing to protect them as much as possible when doing their jobs.

5. Inhaling Toxic Fumes

Breathing in toxic fumes can cause respiratory problems and long term chronic health conditions. There are strict rules in most developed countries that specific how to use and manage dangerous substances and materials that emit hazardous fumes.

People working in factories or laboratories are most likely to be affected by this type of injury at work. To prevent the inhalation of toxic fumes, protective gear should be issued and ventilation well maintained and working.

If anyone starts to feel dizzy or lightheaded, they should leave the area immediately and get some fresh air. If in any doubt over the type of protective gear required, you can check the regulations on HMRC’s website.

6. Workplace Violence

Whilst rate, violence in the workplace can and does occur. If a violent episode leaves workers injured, they should seek first aid or urgent medical assistance depending on the severity of the violence.

From physical to verbal abuse, if you experience this at work you should try to remain calm and remove yourself from the situation. Talk to your line managers and report any incidence of violence at work. Employers need to ensure they have a safety plan for the event that a violence incident occurs and police may need to be involved too.

7. Electric Shock

Electric shock causes serious harm and is a risk in many industries, especially those where workers come into contact with electrical equipment or wring that isn’t grounded properly.

Poor education about electricity and the safety measures to take when working with it, and poorly maintained electrical systems / wiring are the leading cause of electrocution in the workplace.

The biggest rule to remember is that you should never touch electrical equipment without first shutting off the power to the area that you’re working on.

If you see a co-worker being electrocuted, do not touch them or the equipment they are in contact with. Instead, immediately turn off the power and call for help.

8. Burns

Burns are another type of injury that can be fairly minor, to incredibly severe life changing accidents. There are thermal (heat) burns, electrical burns and chemical burns to consider.

Workers using kitchens, labs, chemicals or electrical roles are most at risk from burns but something as simple as making a cup of tea could also result in a burn injury.

To prevent workplace burns, encourage employees to follow safety procedures when working with dangerous chemicals or heat sources. Everyone should have up-to-date fire safety training including how to use and locate fire extinguishers.

As part of Health & Safety reviews, employers need to ensure that flammable materials are not left unattended and are secured and stored as required by the manufacturer. First aid kits should also include a burns kit so that injuries can be treated quickly before further help arrives if the burn is severe and will need additional treatment.

9. Exposure to Loud Noise

Exposure to loud noise can lead to hearing loss over time. Whilst it’s not an immediate risk, hearing loss can be gradual and often not noticed until it’s too late.

The people most at risk are those who work in loud venues, in construction, manufacturing or at airports and are exposed to loud noises for long periods of time.

Preventing hearing loss is easy – simply wear ear protection if you’re working in an area with lots of noise or if noise regularly exceeds a given decibel reading.

If workers complain of ringing in their ears, dizziness or headaches, you need to take action and get them to a quieter area for rest. Long-term irreparable hearing damage like tinnitus can be avoided by simply wearing ear protection.

10. Collapsing Structures

Collapsing structures result in extremely dangerous situations, the risk of serious injuries or even death. Poor design, inappropriate materials, construction standards or weather conditions can all impact the likelihood of structural collapse.

Construction, mining or demolition are particular industries for concern with this kind of injury but collapsing structures are not isolated to these sectors. Employers need to ensure that structures, buildings and workspaces are regularly assessed for structural safety and that steps are taken to fix any known issues as soon as possible.

Safety wear such as hard hats, steel cap boots and protective clothing should be worn in the risk areas. Whilst they won’t prevent the collapse happening, they could reduce the injury sustained or make it easier to find someone trapped.

11. Crashes and Collisions

Crashes and collisions most often occur between mechanical vehicles, but can also happen when someone is using any kind of machine on wheels. People working in construction, delivery, trucking, or driving roles are most at risk of this type of accident at work.

Injuries resulting from crashes and collisions can again be incredibly serious. From whiplash to broken bones or even death, the key is again to avoid the accident happening in the first place where possible.

To avoid crashes and collisions, always be aware of your surroundings, drive defensively, and follow all safety precautions. If you are driving a large vehicle, be extra cautious and give yourself plenty of time to brake. Pay attention to the weather conditions and never drive in severe weather unless it is absolutely necessary.

Also, be sure to follow all traffic laws and never operate a vehicle if you are under the influence of any drugs or alcohol. Finally, make sure that you are well-rested before getting behind the wheel. Dozing off while driving is all too easy to do if you are tired and is one of the leading causes of crashes and collisions.

12. Ergonomic Injuries

Ergonomic injuries can result from repetitive movements, awkward positions or excessive force being applied in the wrong position. Examples include carpal tunnel syndrome, sore wrists and back pains. These injuries usually get gradually worse over time and can be very painful. The right workstation ergonomics are essential to prevent this.

To avoid this kind of pain, workers should take regular breaks, move from their positions and move around every 20-30 minutes. Posture and the correct ergonomic set up of desks and chairs can make a huge difference to preventing these kinds of injuries.

Hips shoulders and ears should be aligned when sitting or standing and remember to listen to your body. If something hurts, you should take a break or alter your position.

Final Thoughts

Prevention is better than cure for workplace injuries but even with the best protocols and safety equipment in the world, accidents will still happen and that can result in injuries in the workplace.

While some workplace injuries are more common than others, the best way to avoid being injured at work is to always be aware of your surroundings and follow all safety procedures. Most importantly, listen to your body and don’t try to do something that is too risky or beyond your abilities.

If you find yourself injured at work or witness a colleague getting injured, seek medical attention immediately, fill out an accident report and ensure supervisors are aware. Every workplace injury should be treated seriously so that proper precautions can be taken to prevent it happening again.

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