Workplace safety checklist: How safe is your workplace?

There were 555,000 non-fatal workplace-related injuries reported by employees last year, according to stats published by HSE. Around 420,000 of these injuries resulted in absences of up to 7 days and 135,000 injuries resulted in absences of more than 7 days. Almost a third of these injuries were caused by slips, trips and falls. 

This is just the number of reported accidents and anecdotal experience tells us that huge numbers of workplace accidents go unreported

We’ve listed just a few of the industries that experience some of the highest workplace injury rates in the UK. We’ve also included a few tips on how to make your workplace safer…

Offices

What: One of the most common injuries office workers experience is repetitive strain injury (RSI). The Trade Union Congress (TUC) reported that 500,000 UK workers experienced RSI, resulting in a total loss of 5.4 million working days due to sick days. 

How: RSI is where muscles, nerves, tendons and joints are damaged by repetitive actions. The causes of RSI may include using poor quality equipment (such as a non-adjustable chair), working in a cold office, not taking enough breaks and holding your muscles in the same position for long periods of time. Symptoms of RSI can include shooting pains in the arms and hands, bad circulation in hands, tremors and difficulty with simple tasks such as turning on a tap or opening a door. 

Make it safer: 

  • Ensure employees have access to proper equipment such as an adjustable chairs, ergonomic keyboards, footrests, wrist rests and adjustable screens 
  • Ensure your employees have enough space to work at their desk
  • Encourage employees to take regular breaks from tasks
  • Encourage employees to take a break from using their computer screen at least every hour

Retail

What: Slips, trips and falls are one of the biggest incidents in retail in the UK. They’re more notable among retail workers, especially supermarket workers, as they stock lots of liquids and perishables on a daily basis. Your customers are also at risk from slips, trips and falls, which could potentially open up a public liability case! Shop workers being injured when moving trolleys heavily loaded with stock is unfortunately a daily occurrence. In some circumstances, shop owners also can be liable to compensate staff who are attacked by irate customers.  

How: Slips and trips in retail stores and supermarkets are largely caused by spillages or leaks. Workers may also be in danger of injuries caused by uneven flooring, recently cleaned floors with no wet floor sign, broken shelving and other trip hazards. 

Make it safer:  

  • Make sure all workers are trained in retail health and safety
  • Make sure workers wring out the mop properly so as to avoid overly wet flooring and reduce drying time
  • Use the right signage such as wet floor signs and barriers to prevent trips and slips
  • Report damaged flooring, fixtures and fittings immediately and get them fixed as soon as possible
  • Maintain all cleaning equipment on a regular basis

Construction sites

What: Falling from height is one of the biggest risks on a construction site. Even falling a very short distance can cause serious injury. Other common accident mechanisms are being injured by tools and machinery and also crushed by falling materials and waste.

Over 4,000 serious injuries on building sites (such as broken bones or fractured skulls) are reported to The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) every year. 

How: Scaffold workers, crane operators, roofers and workers using ladders are at risk from falling from a height. Causes may include ill-fitting personal protective equipment (PPE), total lack of PPE, poor quality equipment (such as broken ladders and loose scaffolding) and tripping over materials blocking walkways. 

Make it safer:

  • Make sure everyone has the correct PPE (hard hats, harnesses, lanyards, etc)
  • Keep all walkways clear of obstructions
  • Make regular checks on all equipment – including scaffolding
  • Use railings wherever possible
  • Make sure all workers are fully trained up on health and safety (e.g. using ladders correctly)
  • If you’re working with roofers then make sure they follow the Working on Roofs guidelines set out by HSE
  • Use parapet walls wherever possible
  • Avoid height work wherever possible

Factories and warehouses

What: Manual handling accounts for over a third of workplace-related injuries – especially in factories and warehouses where workers are highly likely to lift and move heavy goods. Manual handling injuries include anything to do with carrying, lifting, lowering, pushing and pulling. A large amount of serious injuries are caused by the use of fork lift trucks.

How: If manual handling is carried out incorrectly then it can cause musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) such as repetitive strain injuries, sprains, lower back pain, torn ligaments, hernias and spinal disc degradation. 

Make it safer: 

  • Ensure all workers are fully trained in HSE’s guide to manual handling under the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992
  • Assess potential hazards regularly:
    • Does the manual handling task require multiple people?
    • Is the work environment sufficient? Is the floor slippery or uneven? Is the lighting poor? Are there any obstructions?
    • Do your workers need equipment or machinery to move the load? For example, a forklift truck or a pallet truck?
  • Make sure all equipment and PPE are regularly checked and maintained
  • Avoid lifting anything above shoulder height – always use the appropriate lifting aids
  • Minimise all carrying distances where possible

Unfortunately, accidents do happen in the workplace. Often, the victim of the accident is made to feel somehow responsible for whatever has gone wrong and are told the accident is their own fault. Attempts to blame the victim are usually an effort to shift the blame from managers and supervisors and are usually legally wrong . The duties owed by employers to their employees are wide ranging and it is rare for an accident to happen without there being a breach of duty on the part of the employer. 

If you have been injured in the workplace and you don’t think it was your fault we will be happy to give free initial advice without obligation. Call our personal injury team on 0800 614 722 or request a callback / email us using the button below:

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