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Common Workplace Safety Accidents (and How to Prevent Them)
3 types of workplace accidents are responsible for almost 70% of serious injury and disorder claims. Do you know what these are?
Most Australians feel safe at work, until they get into an accident and are forced to stop working and earn a living… or until their business is forced to pay thousands of dollars in fines.
The inescapable truth is Australians fall ill and become injured (or worse) because of work related injuries and accidents everyday. There were more than 531,000 injuries and diseases in the workplace in 2014 alone!
This is a massive number since these common accidents at the workplace can leave you disabled, force you to change careers, pay massive fines, or worse: death.
Many of the top work related injuries are not unique to industries like mining or construction anymore. Even office workers, school teachers, community carers, and other professionals are now at risk of a wide range of workplace safety incidents.
Don’t let the next victim be you and your workplace.
So which accidents, injuries, and diseases should you be aware of?
Check out the list of the most common safety incidents below based on the latest work related injury statistics and learn how to prevent accidents in your workplace.
1. Mouse clicking, bad desk posture, and other wrist, back, and shoulder injuries
Number of serious claims from body stress injuries: 48,090 (41% of all claims)
Does your work force you to stay in the same position, repeat a specific movement, or manually handle objects everyday?
If yes, you and your staff may be at risk of developing a muscle or skeletal disorder.
Physical stress and injuries are the most common causes of serious claims for injury compensation. Your back, shoulders, and wrists are easily stressed and can cause severe pain and major disorders and diseases such as:
- • Muscle strain, particularly on the back, when sitting, standing, or moving
- • Sprained wrists, knees, and other joints that make using computers and equipment difficult and dangerous
- • Tendon, muscle, and bone deformities that need immediate medical attention
Common causes and hazards:
- • Manually lifting, carrying, pushing, and pulling objects – Do you often transport products or equipment?
- • Constant bending and turning – Do you often reach for and move around objects?
- • Working in small, cramped, or poorly designed spaces – Is your office desk and chair too high or too low?
- • Not changing positions – Are you sitting down or standing up most of the day?
- • Repeating movements – Do you use a computer mouse for several hours straight?
How to prevent these accidents and injuries in your workplace:
- • Check with your Safety Officer or Workplace Health and Safety Representative if your workplace conditions can be improved
- • If there is no Safety Officer, provide an incentive for your staff to study a workplace health and safety course and take on safety-related roles
- • Make sure desks and chairs are designed correctly to keep your back, shoulders, and wrists in the right position
- • Make sure you and your staff receive proper training in handling common equipment
- • Repack heavy objects into smaller packages or use cranes and forklifts when transporting
2. Tripping on wires, falling on stairs, and sliding on slippery floors
Number of serious claims from falls, trips, and slips: 26,130 (22% of all claims)
Have you ever noticed cables or tools left lying around or wet or polished floors in your workplace?
If yes, you could be one of the thousands of Australians that get injured every year because of tripping.
This everyday incident alone is responsible for more than 26,000 serious injury claims! In fact, more than 1 out of every 5 claims is the direct result of falling from the same level, such as slipping on the floor or catching your foot on a loose object.
Falling and tripping usually result in:
- • Muscle strains
- • Sprained knees, ankles, wrists, and other joints
- • Cuts and bruises
- • Bone fractures and dislocations
Common causes and hazards:
- • Phone jacks and power cables lying on the floor or sticking out into hallways
- • Hard to see edges when climbing up steps
- • Spillage from coffee and water in office pantries
- • Poor lighting in the workplace
- • Uneven and bumpy floors
How to prevent tripping and slipping in your workplace:
- • Print out signages for wet or slippery areas
- • Maintain good housekeeping rules to clean up spills immediately
- • Keep doorways and hallways clear of cables and other tripping hazards
- • Keep stairway elevation between 15° and 55°
- • Ensure there is proper drainage
3. Getting bullied, extreme pressure, and other mental stress
Number of serious claims from mental stress: 6,335 (5% of all claims)
Do you often feel overly pressured at work or have witnessed or even been a victim of bullying or harassment?
If yes, you may be at risk of developing a mental or even physical disorder that can prevent you from going to work.
In Australia, work-related mental stress is responsible for the most expensive compensation claims because they often involve long periods of absence. This lost productivity is estimated to cost Australian businesses more than $10 billion each year!
Common effects of mental stress are:
- • Increased anxiety, depression, aggression, and burnout
- • Poor physical health leading to diseases
- • Higher staff turnover and more frequent absences
- • Breakdown of team relationships
- • Lower productivity
Common causes and hazards:
- • Heavy workload, unreasonable targets, and deadlines
- • Extremely competitive work environment
- • Interpersonal conflicts with colleagues
- • Bullying in the workplace or verbal and physical harassment
- • Witnessing violent or traumatic events
How to prevent bullying and minimise mental stress in your workplace:
- • Give workers and employees opportunities to provide feedback on their work environment
- • Make sure there are processes in place to report and prevent harassment and bullying
- • Encourage staff to discuss their mental health by assigning a staff member they can speak with confidentially
- • Provide training on how to handle workplace stress
Summary: Preventing Workplace Safety Accidents
Most Australians only realise how unsafe their workplace is when it’s too late. Workplace safety statistics show us that many accidents and injuries today are caused by everyday objects and events.
Clicking away on your mouse, moving equipment around, and leaving cables lying around may seem harmless, but the disorders and diseases they can cause ruin lives and careers if you are not careful.
When combined, muscular stress, falls and trips, and mental stress are responsible for almost 70% of all serious claims for work-related injuries and diseases.
Thankfully, these risks and accidents can be identified and controlled through safety management systems.
If your workplace does not have its own Safety Officer or WHS Representative to create these systems, encourage other employees to take up workplace safety training courses or consider taking one up yourself.
If you are unsure of how to respond or report a health and safety concern, visit your local WorkSafe website.
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