It is a sobering statistic that, in 2015/16, 144 workers in the UK lost their lives as a direct result of an accident at work. This is according to the UK government’s Labour Force Survey*. Of these, 26% fell from a height and 29% were struck by a vehicle or other moving object. Of course, the vast majority of accidents at work do not end up being fatal, however, many can result in long-term problems that can cause an extended period of absence, or even enforced retirement from the affected worker’s original role.
On a more hopeful note, the same survey reported a longer-term decline in both fatal and non-fatal injuries since the run of the century. This could be attributed to many factors, one of which has to be an increased awareness of the necessity to ensure not only your own safety at work, but also that of your colleagues and, if you are a manager or team leader, your team members and direct reports.
Looking a little deeper into the non-fatal accidents analysed by the Labour Force Survey, the main causes were injuries caused by handling, flitting or carrying, as well as falling from a height, being hit by a moving object, having contact with moving machinery, slipping or falling over a trip hazard and being subjected to physical assault.
The survey also estimates the number of lost working days caused by each type of accident. These range from nine or ten days for a fall to around four days if a person is a truck by a moving object. However the injury is caused, and however many days are lost due to the victim’s recovery, accidents at work cause a lot more damage overall than physical pain and injury.
This can include significant financial loss when the workforce is not operating at full capacity and sick pay, compensation and fines need to be paid. An injury can also represent a major blow to a company’s reputation and time lost to injury investigations and reparations.
Therefore, it is hardly breaking the news that it is in everyone’s best interests to work as hard as possible to reduce injuries in the workplace and to aspire to a goal of zero incidents. Much of the preparation work involved in risk assessment and injury prevention is legally required. Responsible employers will work beyond the legal requirements, however, to ensure optimum safety.
There is plenty of useful advice and guidance to be found online and a good place to start is the UK government’s Health and Safety Executive at www.hse.gov.uk and RoSPA, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents at www.rospa.com.
* Source: www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causinj