Nearly 700,000 non-fatal workplace accidents were reported throughout the 2016/2017 period, with slips and trips accounting for almost one third of all injuries. Although these figures continue to fall year on year, workplaces can still be hazardous places, especially when health and safety policies are not adhered to.
Causes of injury
Some forms of injury are specific to the workplace, so they may not apply to your industry. But injury caused in the workplace comes in many forms – some you may have never considered – and it is important to understand where you most risk having injured employees and ensure you are doing everything you can to prevent them.
Organisational – caused by poor workplace practices, i.e. fatigue, harassment;
Chemical – caused by exposure to chemical solids, liquids or gases, i.e. burns, fumes;
Physical – caused by exposure to harsh conditions, i.e. radiation, extreme temperature;
Biological – caused by exposure to organic matter, i.e. bodily fluids, mold or fungi;
Ergonomic – caused by unsuitable equipment/furniture, i.e. uncomfortable desks; and
Safety – caused by unsafe working conditions, i.e. spills, trips, work at height.
What to do next
You have a serious responsibility as an employer to maintain a workplace that is safe and adheres to all relevant health and safety requirements. These obligation will vary depending on your kind of workplace, so make sure you have a thorough understanding of what is required of you, and regularly revisit these requirements to ensure everything is up to date and compliant.
Completing regular risk assessments is essential to knowing what is required of you. You are also required to ensure that all employees in your care are given adequate health and safety training and refreshment courses. If you are unsure of exactly what is required of you as an employer, enquire with the Health and Safety Executive.
What if you end up with injured employees?
In the event of an accident churning out injured employees, you as an employer are the first port of call. As soon as you are notified, seek immediate medical attention if nobody else has already. Collect as much information as you can and record it all in your accident log. Depending on the seriousness of the accident, you may have to co-operate with statutory sick pay and disablement benefit proceedings until the employee is back to work.
Offer them continued support if they have to take time off work to recover, and when they return to work, take appropriate measures to ease them into it. Should there be grounds for compensation, co-operate with any investigations and do not hold it against the employee, or make them feel uncomfortable for pursuing damages.
The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) require employers to report injured employees within a maximum of ten days after the incident. Reports can be made online and are processed straight away by the appropriate governing body.
Make sure as many details and accounts of the accident are put into writing as soon as possible so that no important contributing factors are forgotten. Do not delay in filing a report as penalties may apply.
Creating safer culture
Not all workplace accidents are caused by slips, trips or working at a height. Fatigue can also lead to an increase of injured employees, with workers who get less than five hours’ sleep a day having significantly more accidents than those who get seven or more hours. This goes to show just how important a healthy company culture is.
Workplaces that encourage or inflict poor work-life balance in favour of a more “dedicated” approach to employment, causes problems. Overdemading employers have been found to cause not only more accidents, but also poor morale, low productivity and high employee turnover. It is in an employer’s best interest to have genuine regard for the wellbeing of their workers, and to encourage healthy lifestyles and work-life balance.
Health and safety, and the prevention of accidents in the workplace, should be a priority for any employer. It is not only for the sake of avoiding injured employees, absence and potential compensation suits, but for the sake of a well-rounded and healthy working culture that supports its employees and makes for long-term loyalty and high morale.
A new survey has reported that 61 per cent of men have not received any information on their company’s workplace health and safety policies – despite the fact that 54 per cent of men work in a hazardous role.