The International Labor Organization (ILO), an agency of the United Nations, estimates that there are 1 million occupational injury-related fatalities every year. To give this perspective, that’s more people than the number who die in motor vehicle accidents. Of course, many more people are injured. The ILO estimates that there are 250 million workplace accidents that cause some sort of injury.
Needless to say, prevention is better than cure – and no ethical employer would want to have a fatality among his or her workforce. We take a look at common workplace accidents that cause injuries, and what you can do to protect your employees.
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Slips, Trips, and Falls
Slips, trips, and falls are the most common causes of workplace injuries. If your facilities are open to members of the public, you’re responsible for protecting them too. Personal injury lawyers, Lamber Goodnow, remind us that if a trip, slip, or fall accident causes injury through negligence on your part, you’re open to prosecution. Protect your employees, clients, and ultimately, yourself and your business by undertaking regular safety inspections.
Go over your facility with an eagle eye. Are there guard rails on stairs or ramps? Are there slippery surfaces that could cause falls? Is there clutter that could cause someone to trip? Ideally, consider going on a course that will help you to conduct your safety audit, or get a consultant to help you. Do keep a paper trail to show that you went all out to remedy any potential danger areas.
Injuries form Handling, Lifting, or Carrying
Some jobs are physically demanding, but even light lifting can cause nasty injuries. Ensure that your staff is trained to handle lifting in the correct way and ask supervisors to be alert for incorrect or dangerous lifting activities. Make it easy for employees to carry items from one place to another – trolleys or hoppers offer good examples. The easier you make it for your staff to handle, lift, and carry items, the lower the chance that accidents can happen.
Being Struck by a Moving Object
This type of accident accounts for around 10 percent of work-related injuries and spans a wide range of situations. As a rule of thumb, pay attention to any area where there is movement of objects. Once again, staff training is important, and danger zones should be clearly marked to remind them of the need for caution. Machine operators such as forklift drivers should be trained in the safest ways to get their work done, and as in all things health and safety related, a paper trail shows that you haven’t simply been negligent if the worst happens and an accident occurs.
Acts of Violence
Fortunately not all industries run this risk. But if you have security guards, for example, or have staff dealing with the public in tense situations, it’s important that they should receive ample training and be provided with the tools they need to keep themselves safe. Of course, violent crime in the workplace is always a possibility, so look for risk areas and find ways to reduce the risk. Handling payroll in cash, for example, endangers staff since it provides an incentive for potentially violent criminals.
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Falls from a Height
Whether it’s falls from ladders or high rise buildings under construction, falls from a height are responsible for 8 percent of workplace accidents. Needless to say, this type of accident is often very serious indeed. Safety harnesses, guard rails, and handrails are often a good solution, but they need to be checked and maintained on a regular basis. Formulate a strong health and safety checklist and perform regular inspections if this category of workplace accident could be applicable to your situation.
Proper Risk Assessment and Risk Mitigation Practices are Key
Although big businesses are usually alert to the need for risk assessments and the implementation of risk mitigating strategies, smaller businesses are prone to overlook them. The risks to these businesses, their employees, and their clients cannot be understated.
Ideally, one should get professional help in identifying and mitigating workplace risks – sometimes it’s difficult to spot them when they’re part of your day-to-day routine. Alternatively, consider going on a risk assessment course or sending key staff to learn this skill. Regular inspections and reports are a must, whether you work in an office or on a construction site. By following these guidelines, you not only fulfill your duty as an ethical employer, but protect yourself from costly lawsuits and damage to your business’s reputation.