What Are The Causes of Workplace Accidents and How Can They be Reduced?
Causes of Workplace Accidents: Accidents happen all the time at the workplace. Sometimes they end up damaging workers’ health or turn into worldwide disasters. Even if accidents have significantly decreased through the years as employees were provided with better equipment and safety measures, they’re still not under control due to human mistakes.
According to the International Labour Organisation, younger and older workers are most prone to injuries at work. This concerning fact will worsen as the increasing number of older people who need to work will rise in the future. This should be a sign for companies to focus on workers’ safety and not cut corners when it comes to investing in training and better work conditions. Regardless, some accidents can’t be avoided, but at least reduced, which is what we’ll discuss in the following paragraphs.
Most accidents at the workplace are caused by extensive work, which makes employees lose control of their capabilities. Also, poor company culture can cause unethical behaviour in employers and make workers oblivious of what’s happening around them. Here are the most common situations leading to injuries:
- Lifting heavy weights. Some industries require lifting at the workplace, but not many companies analyse the limit that employees can pick up or provide training on how to lift correctly. The proper technique requires bending your hips and knees to squat down to your load, not bending the whole body forward. In the long run, this wrong habit can lead to sprains, strains and fractures.
- Fatigue. While some workplaces don’t allow more than one break between tasks, workers are the subject of chronic fatigue. This can frequently occur in the manual labour industries, but it’s one of the leading causes of fatal injuries.
- Trips and falls. Most workers experience these accidents because the workplace is not adequately assessed, and plenty of working materials are lying around the site or office. At the same time, falls occur when the protective gear is not correctly put on, or the scaffolds are unstable.
I had an accident at work. What should I do?
Recovering from an accident should be a priority for your health. Consult your doctor and take the time needed for the wounds to heal. At the same time, if you suffered from psychological deterioration as a result of the stressful working conditions, it would be best to go to therapy so you won’t experience repercussions later.
But know that when you sign a contract, the employer takes responsibility for your well-being at the workplace. Meaning that your accident was a cause of them breaching their duty; therefore, you should take legal action. In the UK, depending on your employment status (worker, employee, self-employed), you can check your rights and employer’s responsibilities. This legal base will help you assess the situation and take further steps. You need to gather evidence of the accident (photos, videos, audio) and take witnesses’ declarations to confirm the accident was real. Some of them might even provide evidence on how the employer failed to ensure safety, and you might get more chances to make justice.
Lastly, file a claim in the UK to get the compensation you deserve. You can have an idea of the amount you should receive using a calculator that most advisors provide on their websites, but other factors contribute to the total cost. Some of them include the damage level of the injury, the expenses you had to provide for your recovery and the possible impact on your future finances.
What should companies do to avoid such situations?
Although some accidents are caused by lack of attention, most of them happen because employers don’t provide proper training or maintain a safe work environment. The Health and Safety Executive in the UK provides a thorough understanding of how to maintain a safe workplace. The guidance includes:
- Risk assessment. This chapter states that employees need to identify the hazards at the workplace, determine how likely it is that someone will be harmed and take action to eliminate the risk or at least control it.
- Training requirements. The company you’re working for needs to offer guidance on how to work safely without risking your health. They must give you clear instructions and adequate training according to your needs.
- Workplace facilities. Employers must provide welfare facilities for everyone in the workplace. That includes toilets, drinking water and a place to rest and eat meals. Then, companies have to ensure a clean workspace with good ventilation and lighting. Finally, employees should receive well-maintained equipment.
- Accidents and illnesses reporting. For more than ten employees, companies must keep an accident book under social security law, where they need to record incidents. This can help identify patterns and better manage risks in the workplace.
Why do most safety management systems fail?
When a company advocates for safe measurements, it’s not always a good idea to trust them entirely. The main reason companies fail to provide the bare safety minimum is because employers only focus on the job being done rather than considering workers’ health. These types of companies pay low wages to their employees and force them to work to the point of exhaustion, but the appearances are perfect.
Another reason for this system’s failure is the lack of focus on the operational culture of the business. Businesses need to realise that the culture they create will influence employees’ behaviour. What they do wrong is address only the symptoms leading to the incident and ignore the situation’s roots.
A company that truly respects workers’ safety will have a great performance in various business outcomes because they operate significantly better. So, when you’re hunting for a job and see a “perfect company” that you find out later has a high employee turnover or uses vague terms in their job description and business service, it’s a clear sign of management failure.
Finally, reducing accidents at the workplace should be a top priority for most employers. Most of them don’t realise that people will not sacrifice their lives and well-being for the sake of business, and they’ll eventually go bankrupt. So, speak up about the wrongful safety policies and make justice whenever needed.
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