Workplace accidents can be minor or major and can cause injuries ranging from small cuts and bruises to total and permanent disability. Whether you are a worker or an employer, in any workplace it is vital that you are aware of the potential for accidents to occur so that you can protect yourself or your employees from any danger.
Here are some of the most common workplace accidents.
Factory and construction workers are more susceptible to these types of accidents as they are working with trucks and forklifts on a daily basis. However, any employee who drives a vehicle as part of their job will need to comply with the relevant operational and road safety rules to ensure they minimise the risk of a collision.
Walking into things
Collisions of a different kind can take place when workers absentmindedly walk into a door, wall or furniture or something less obvious that may be placed out of eye-line on the ground.
Fortunately, these types of accidents rarely result in major injury, but to ensure they are avoided altogether employers should remind their staff to keep all hazards out of walkways. Walls or doors may be used as signage areas as a way of drawing attention to them and avoiding collisions.
Muscle strains can occur simply from lifting an item without being in the correct stance, so these types of injuries are not limited only to workers who handle extra heavy objects, such as removalists or delivery drivers.
A large range of workers, including office workers, retail workers and those who are employed in hospitality are all at risk and it is the responsibility of all employers to ensure their employees understand and apply correct lifting techniques before they pick up heavier objects in the workplace.
Cuts and lacerations
Cuts and lacerations can occur in any workplace and can involve anything from scissors to power tools. Where the latter is concerned, employees should ensure that their workers have been properly trained to use the tools, understand relevant safety procedures and have access to protective equipment.
Slips, trips and falls
Slips, trips and falls are another type of workplace accident that can occur in any workplace setting. It only takes some spilt liquid or an object that should not be on a walkway to cause someone to slip. Employers should remind their staff to always keep walkways clear and clean up any spills as they happen to avoid dangerous situations.
Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)
Repetitive Strain Injury is caused by continuous and repeat use of the same set of muscles and/or joints. RSI can occur almost anywhere in the body and is most commonly due to:
- lifting heavy objects;
- holding unnatural posture for long periods of time (such as someone who needs to work with their arms above shoulder height);
- maintaining one posture for long periods of time (such as sitting at a computer);
- prolonged and repetitive movements (such as using a mouse or other tools).
RSI can be prevented by taking breaks and, where appropriate, using ergonomic equipment. Employers should make these options available to their workers to avoid long term injury.
Inhalation of Toxic Fumes
Hazardous chemicals are named that way for a reason and while people working with them will be well aware of the health risks that they pose, inhaling or otherwise coming into contact with hazardous chemicals is still one of the most common workplace accidents.
Employers who have workers dealing with toxic chemicals should maintain regular safety briefings and make safety equipment readily available.
Objects falling on workers is another common accident and one that can range from minor to serious.
If workplaces - particularly cupboards or storage areas - are not kept in good order the chance of an object or objects falling increases. This can have a huge impact if the objects are heavy and a worker’s head and/or neck bears the brunt of the force.
The easiest way to prevent this type of workplace accident is to ensure that storage areas are kept in an orderly manner and unnecessary items are stored in a place where they will not create a hazard. Ladders should also be made available to reach objects in high places and prevent workers from unsafely trying to reach the item.
Ongoing Loud Noise
Industrial deafness is becoming less common, but it is still a serious and devastating workplace injury caused by exposure to loud noise on industrial sites.
To help avoid it, employees must ensure that their workers have access to the correct safety equipment and provide opportunities to decrease exposure where possible.