- Home ››
- Health and Safety Training ››
- Articles ››
- Common Workplace Accidents and How We can Help You Prevent Them
Common Workplace Accidents and How We Can Help You Prevent Them
In the UK alone last year, 142 people lost their lives while at work. An additional 76,000 were injured with an estimated £14.3bn being lost as a result. Given these figures, there can be little doubt as to the importance safety plays in the modern workplace. Having a well-trained workforce has been proven to not only reduce on-the-job injuries, but also give employees and employers the peace of mind that is required for a happy and productive working environment.
We offer extensive and detailed open and bespoke courses on workplace safety. Accredited courses such as the NEBOSH, IOSH and CITB training courses can help you get up to speed with the hazards present in the modern workplace, along with the means to prevent them and - for managers - avoid the financial headaches they incur.
Workplace injuries should all be taken seriously. The risk of death alone is enough to warrant the importance of proper health and safety training but even injuries can cause a butterfly effect of harm. An injury could lead to having an inadequate replacement which ultimately is hurting the business through slower production as well as worker's compensation. Therefore safety in the workplace needs to be viewed as a top priority. Training employees in proper safety techniques will create the appropriate culture for a safe working environment that helps retain quality employees and maintain a positive working atmosphere. Workplace hazards can be as simple as an improperly set up work station to the improper handling of hazardous materials. There are many potential perils lurking in the workplace and here are a few types of safety hazards:
With the world of work becoming ever more hectic, it will come as little surprise to many that overexertion now ranks as one of the most common factors behind workplace accidents. Certainly, with ever-mounting workloads and increasingly tighter deadlines, it can be tempting to push yourself that little bit too far. After all, how many of us have decided to carry an uncomfortable amount of paper to ensure only one trip to the printer? How often have you been operating machinery with nothing to fuel you but caffeine? Our training courses will help you form a better idea as too what your limitations are as well as ensuring you are equipped with all the necessary tools to perform your job properly.
Trips, Slips and Falls
No matter what your job involves, all of us can fall victim to workplaces trips or falls. From an unmarked hole on a construction site to a freshly washed office floor, the modern workplace is littered with potential tumbling hazards that can result in nasty injuries to employees or sizeable insurance claims for employers. Thankfully however, the NEBOSH, IOSH and CITB certificate range have extensive courses covering precisely this problem area, with advice that is applicable to virtually every workplace.
People can be clumsy but having cables running along the floor doesn't help and can easily lead to tripping and injuring yourself in a fall. Wet floors are a danger if not accurately marked which could lead to a nasty slip and fall. There are also dangers when on ladders or other elevated heights that could lead to serious falling injuries. Other potential trip concerns come from uneven floors or a messy workplace.
Injuries Caused by Machinery
One of the fantastic aspects of our courses is no matter what area of work you are involved in, you will be able to find a course to cover the hazards most commonly associated with your field. For those of you who work in the construction trade, one of the most accident-prone professions, the NEBOSH Construction Certificate covers many topics related to site safety, including a module dedicated to the proper use of machinery, a competence that surely must be a prerequisite before embarking on this potentially dangerous work.
The workplace of today certainly is a hyper-modern environment. Furnished with printers, computers, copiers and all manner of digital gizmos, there has never been a greater number of electronics scattered around our offices. Whilst the convenience and speed that these afford are undeniable, they bring with them an infinitely higher risk of electrocution. Our range of safety courses however, will show you how to create a work space that is both efficient and safe.
Electricity is one of the most prevalent dangers in the workplace. A poorly trained employee can seriously injure themselves working on equipment but even properly trained employees can be at risk. Faulty equipment should immediately be taken away and inspected properly before continuing its use and needs to be identified right away to avoid putting anyone's safety in jeopardy.
Without doubt fire can be one of the most distressing and destructive of all workplace accidents and one that can cause truly horrific injuries to anyone unlucky enough to be caught up in it. By following the advice outlined in fire training courses however - not overloading power-sockets, conducting regular safety checks of appliances - or following our clearly set out guidelines should the worst happen, we can help to ensure tragedy is avoided.
Poorly maintained electrical equipment can easily be overlooked and can just as easily cause a fire. There are also dangers from combustible liquids being stored improperly as well as other fire hazards.
Noise and Vibrations
Exposure to loud noises and vibrations can be a danger to both short-term and long-term hearing. Prolonged exposure to loud noise can cause damage to hearing while regular contact with vibrating tools can cause long term damage to muscles, circulation, and joints.
These are just a few examples but there are so many more safety hazards to be avoided. This is why health and safety training is not just a benefit but a necessity in every business setting. Properly trained employees will not only be able to avoid hazards but they will also be able to identify potential hazards and help make the workplace safer for everyone. We are all accountable for safety in the workplace and creating a safe environment starts with the proper training.
How to Prevent Accidents When Performing Maintenance on Equipment
A number of safety precautions can be introduced and followed in order to minimise the risks of an accident occurring during maintenance procedures. These include:
Planning - Like most things in life, a failure to plan can lead to unforeseen problems later on, and health and safety is a prime example of this. By thoroughly planning and performing risk assessments before any work takes place, preventative action can be taken before somebody gets hurt.
Permit to work systems - For particularly high-risk work, making use of a permit to work system will help to minimise the risks that are present on work which can easily kill or severely injure a person. All those involved with the permit and anyone likely to be affected by it needs to have received permit to work training so that they fully-understand how the system operates and who is responsible for what.
Isolate and lock off equipment and electricity supply - Doing this will prevent the electricity supply or machinery being restarted before workers are clear of it. Individual padlocks for each worker to which only they have the key for will greatly improve the effectiveness of this locking off for preventing accidental switching back on.
Ensure only competent personnel perform the maintenance - Those workers who have not had suitable safety training or are not qualified to carry out repairs or maintenance on the piece of equipment in question can be a danger both to themselves or others, for example if the equipment malfunctions when it resumes use.
Prevent access to the area to those who should not be there - Whilst workers may be following permits or method statements, anybody who accidentally or deliberately accesses the area may be in danger. Introducing measures such as site perimeter fencing and clear warning signs can help keep people out.
Provide any necessary protective equipment and safety devices - Even after eliminating as many risks as possible, many maintenance jobs will require workers to wear suitable personal protective equipment (PPE). This can include items such as gloves, breathing apparatus, radiation suits etc. It is the responsibility of managers and employers to ensure that this equipment is provided and is in good condition.
Finally... common sense - Without this, even the most stringent safety precautions can be rendered useless and ineffective.
How Do Health and Safety Courses Prevent Accidents?
One of the main objectives of putting your employees through a programme of health and safety training is to not only comply with relevant legislation, but to also give them the knowledge of how to work safely, including teaching them why it is important to do/not do certain things, use appropriate protective equipment etc. They can then apply this knowledge when back in the workplace in order to reduce the chances of accidents and incidents from occurring.
No amount of safety training or provisions can remove all risk entirely. What having your workers attend courses in health and safety will do is give them the know-how to significantly reduce the chances of an accident occurring which causes death or injury to themselves or others. By knowing what to look out for, how to act etc, many incidents can be prevented. As far as health and safety is concerned, as with most things in life, prevention is far more preferable than dealing with the aftermath of the situation, as sometimes it may not be possible to reverse the effects, such as permanent back pain or disability caused by poor manual handling techniques.
Accident prevention also relies on the workers themselves applying common sense and following the instruction they have been given. Even if the employer has provided all of the protective equipment required, if the employee does not use it or deliberately uses it incorrectly, then the protection needed will be lacking and could cause damage to their health. Good health and safety practice is an ongoing thing, which relies on effective monitoring, frequent risk assessments and proper communication long after the health and safety courses have imparted the information. Workers may also benefit tremendously from regular refresher courses to help them remember important safety information which may have been forgotten since their last training session, or new dangers which have been introduced such as COSHH substances which are hazardous to health in the short- and/or long-term.
Health and Safety Training to Prevent Accidents and Stay Safe at Work
Health and safety is important for all of us at all times, but these issues assume great importance in the workplace. It is absolutely crucial for any organisation to place top priority on the health and safety of its employees as it is directly linked with their productivity and efficiency. Ensuring proper health and safety of the workforce helps in preventing accidents in the workplace. It also helps a company to attain its goals in a quicker and a smoother manner.
Chances of Accidents in the Workplace Can Be Greatly Minimised
Accidents are not uncommon in the workplace, especially where heavy machinery and inflammable materials are used. Accidents may take place because of mechanical failure or power problems but quite often are caused by mistakes or carelessness on the part of the workforce. It is this carelessness or ignorance of the employees that can result in severe accidents involving loss of life, serious injury, illness or damage to property. This is why it is essential to not only follow government rules and regulations regarding health and safety in the workplace but also to impart proper training to employees so as to greatly reduce the chances of an accident at the workplace.
Proper Training at the Time of Induction
All companies must provide health and safety training to their employees at the time of their induction. All new employees must be given information about the safety procedures and standards being followed by the company, as well as being made aware of necessary information such as fire exits and assembly areas.
A key element of safety in the workplace involves first aid. All companies, big or small, should have a first aid system in place to prevent any injury to an employee becoming worse and leading to a bigger problem for the person involved. In some situations the presence of suitable trained first aiders may be the difference between life and death.
Fire has been seen as a very common cause of accidents in the workplace. All workplaces where there is potential risk of fire because of flammable materials being used should have fire detection (smoke and heat detectors) and warning systems in place. All workplaces should be equipped with fire extinguishers and workers should be given training in how to make use of these fire extinguishers should the need for their use in an emergency arise. There should be emergency exit doors to allow employees to escape quickly and easily in the eventuality of fire breaking out inside the premises.
Accidents arising out of mechanical failure are also a source of concern but more accidents take place because of the mistakes of employees working on the machines. Proper health and safety training of employees to keep themselves and others safe in the workplace is a must in addition to putting in place all control measures.
Steer Clear Of Accidents - Get Health and Safety Training Today!
The Benefits of Health and Safety Training
With each job, whether it entails field work or desk tasks, come numerous risks that could endanger the health and well-being of your workers. The dangers of fires, falls, trips, exposure to hazardous substances, electrocution, and many other accidents are all too real, and when your workers fall victim to these dangers, it will be you who has to find the solutions to the problem. Having one employee call in sick because of work related reasons doesn't seem like much, but when it happens all too often, you might want to look at just how much you lose with each injury.
Health and safety training keeps your employees aware of the potential risks of working in and around your workspace, as well as the procedures and precautions they should employ to keep them out of harm's way. This training will not only help reduce the dangers of work related injuries and accidents, but also improve the productivity in your workspace; potentially increasing your workers' output.
How Health and Safety Training Works
Health and safety awareness training works by providing your workers with important information and knowledge to help them prevent work related injuries and accidents within their workspace. By identifying the unique occupational hazards present in their space, you can teach your employees to steer clear of potential risks and dangers, as well as find solutions so that certain hazards won't even need to be present at all.
By enrolling your workers in a health and safety awareness training course, you not only ensure their well-being, but also save yourself from potential losses and extra costs. Consider getting a health and safety training course for your workers today and reap the benefits of a well-oiled operation!
How Accidents Can Ultimately Lead to Closure
Accidents and incidents which occur at a place of work can have a number of consequences, potentially affecting the health and safety of people nearby, not to mention local wildlife and the surrounding environment. Depending upon the severity of the incident and the substances which are present that can be unintentionally released into the atmosphere of groundwater, these incidents can result in anything from no serious health effects to large-scale death and destruction.
The immediate repercussions of the incident may not be overly onerous. The company may receive a large fine, but compared to its current profit levels it could easily make this back in the future. The real problem for the company comes when the incident has an effect upon sales and subsequently those levels of profit, as will often happen after a company takes a significant hit to its reputation and brand image after being responsible for a damaging incident.
The Consequences Can Affect Businesses Of All Sizes
At one end of the scale, a small business which depends upon the custom of the local town may find itself shunned if it causes an accident or incident which kills or injures a number of members of the community. This will have a serious chance of forcing it out of business as the much-declined revenue now struggles to cover the outgoings.
Even large multinational corporations can come near to closure or even be forced into bankruptcy by the same principal, but on a national or international level. Major accidents which make national or international news headlines can come to a wide audience extremely quickly, especially now that social media enables people to share news stories amongst many others all over the world within seconds.
If fines and compensation claims are severe and also rumble on for years, causing uncertainty amongst investors, the long-term effects of relatively poor sales can have damaging effects upon the viability of the company, which is sometimes terminal.
Particular causes of large-scale outrage and product boycotts are those which negatively affect the environment in some way. Environmental activists and campaigners can bring about severe disruption for a business which they believe to be significant harmers of the environment, whether this is an accident such as an explosion or spill, or as a result of deliberate dumping of waste or releasing a lot of toxic emissions into the atmosphere. This is why environmental courses like the NEBOSH Environmental Certificate are increasingly popular so that there stands to be less chance of negatively impacting the environment and suffering the potential financial consequences of doing so.
The Purpose of Accident Investigation
Even with all the planning and forward thinking in the world, accidents will still occur in the workplace. Effective health and safety training and control measures will only reduce the likelihood of an accident occurring; they can never totally eliminate the potential for an incident or reduce the chances down to zero.
Whilst it may be caused by a single factor, most accidents come about as the result of a number of causes or control failures. The purpose of accident investigation is to determine what led to the accident occurring, with the ultimate aim of identifying what can be improved (safety controls, working practices, changes to protective equipment etc) to both ensure that the same incident does not happen again, but also to prevent an even more serious accident taking place at some point in the future.
Accident investigation is considered a reactive measure with regards to health and safety, as it comes about in response to an accident taking place, rather than a proactive measure which intends to prevent such an incident from happening in the first place. However, there is a proactive element to accident investigation, as the findings can be used as a basis upon which to design and implement control measures which prevent a future, perhaps more serious, occurrence.
A significant amount of important information can be gained from conducting a thorough investigation after an accident. This includes:
- A greater understanding of the risks workers face on a daily basis whilst performing their workplace duties
- Determining the effectiveness of current safety controls, protective equipment, safety equipment and accident prevention measures, as well as identifying where there are deficiencies and omissions which could be improved upon
- Understanding why workers act the way they do, for example, do they take shortcuts because they are under too much pressure from managers to hit production targets which are unrealistic when following safety measures.
Preventing Accidents Benefits Everyone
Preventing accidents or injuries not only benefits the worker personally, but also has many benefits to the organisation. Apart from satisfying any relevant health and safety legislation that needs to be complied with, there are numerous financial incentives for preventing future accidents, such as:
- Avoiding fines from regulators for health and safety breaches
- Avoiding expensive compensation claims from injured employees
- Not having to close part of the factory or production line whilst an incident is being investigated
- Not having to pay for repairs to equipment which may be damaged in an incident such as an explosion or fire
- Not suffering a drop in production whilst one or more employees are off work, who will still need to be paid sick pay. If production levels need to be maintained, temporary workers will need to be recruited and trained, which will cost money. Workers may be moved across from other areas of the business, but this may adversely affect the output of their particular area, not to mention a fall in the morale of the worker(s) being moved if they do not want to do this different job.
- Having a workforce which feels safe at work is likely to be a more motivated workforce, causing an increase in their productivity, leading to greater output and, ultimately, higher profits for the business.
Near Misses Shouldn't Be Ignored Either
As well as full-blown accidents, near misses should also be investigated. Just because nobody was injured is no excuse for not taking the time needed to investigate the causes of the near miss, as it is likely that the same factors which led up to this incident may combine again, where the outcome may be more serious.
Is It Too Late to Provide Health and Safety Training After an Accident?
The main purpose of providing health and safety training to workers is to minimise as far as is reasonably practical the chances of them suffering from an accident in the workplace or suffering ill-health as a result of working in a particular place or doing a particular task. Unfortunately the risks can never be completely eliminated even with all the health and safety training and preventative measures in the world in place, meaning that accidents in the workplace will occasionally happen.
So does it mean that if an accident occurs then it is too late to provide health and safety training? Absolutely not. In fact, there is most likely a much greater need now than there was before as whilst the past cannot be changed, it is important to try and prevent the same incident from happening again in the future with the potential to impact more lives. If an accident or incident did occur, it is highly probable that existing safety measures, controls, knowledge, working practices or competency of employees is/are insufficient and need to be re-addressed. This may mean additional training, a revision to policies, more effective monitoring or a consultation with workers about the conditions that they are encountering and experiencing in the workplace.
Even when there has not been an accident, it is imperative that neither management nor employees become complacent and think that their health and safety measures are 'finished'. Changing circumstances such as aging machinery, new employees starting or even worker boredom as days pass in which little happens can all too easily lead to an accident happening when it is least expected. Procedures, controls measures and monitoring systems need to be regularly updated along with providing health and safety refresher training to workers at regular intervals.
Using an Accident Book to Improve Workplace Health and Safety
When it comes to health and safety in the workplace, and indeed any location, prevention is far more preferable than dealing with the aftermath and consequences. For other issues it is likely that with a bit of work and effort things can go back to exactly how they were, e.g. profits may have dipped last year but are back to the desired level this year, but for accidents and incidents relating to health and safety, they may change people's lives forever... or end up taking it. These negative impacts can be physical in the form of permanent scarring or loss of limbs, but can also be psychological in the form of trauma experienced through witnessing a horrific accident at work, or indeed suffering one themselves.
The Necessity for Hazard Identification
Being able to identify potential dangers is one of the most important attributes and skills of a health and safety manager, as their ability to spot a hazard before it causes harm allows the danger to be nullified or at the very least minimised as far as is reasonably practical before it causes injury, illness or death to a worker or member of the public.
Learning from Accidents and Near Misses
Whilst the main objective is to prevent accidents, the unfortunate truth is that they will inevitably happen even with the most stringent and comprehensive health and safety procedures and safeguards in place. Health and safety training and precautions can only minimise the potential for accidents; it can never eliminate them entirely within a workplace. Individual hazards may be eliminated by removing certain elements, but the only way to remove every single risk would be to close down, which is obviously not a viable option.
Therefore accidents and near misses will occur. Whilst it can be tempting to try and forget about them as they can be viewed as a failure on the part of accident prevention, it is vital that they are fully investigated and lessons are learned which can stop it from happening again. If the incident is relatively minor, the knowledge acquired could prevent a similar occurrence in the future but on a much larger scale which would otherwise have killed or injured many people.
Making Use of the Accident Book
One place where information can be gleaned from is the company's accident book. All accidents, even minor ones, should be logged in here to provide a written record of pertinent information such as what happened, to whom and when. Most of the accidents will be relatively minor, but even so they can provide a valuable insight into the dangers of the workplace. Patterns may emerge from looking through the book, which may highlight that accidents occur more frequently on a certain piece of equipment, at certain times of the day, to certain groups of people (e.g. young workers), or maybe even to a specific individual! Not only can this emphasise which areas to focus the introduction and improvement of safety features and systems, but may also bring to light the requirement for additional or more detailed health and safety training for one or more staff members to prevent them suffering a more serious accident in the future.
Rather than just relying upon what they can see by conducting workplace inspections, managers responsible for health and safety need to make use of all the resources and information available to them. This includes information contained in the accident book as well as interviews and meetings with employees who can provide valuable insights into the dangers present in the workplace down on the shop floor. The more facts and information the health and safety manager has, the more comprehensive and effective their health and safety implementations are likely to be, which ultimately results in a safer place of work for all.
Accident Investigation Health and Safety Courses
Even with all the health and safety training, precautions, preventative equipment, risk assessments and the like in the world, it is impossible to foresee and prevent every single eventuality. It may also be the case that certain actions were not performed correctly and were inadequate, or mistakes were made that should have been prevented.
By performing accident investigation, management can get to the bottom of exactly how and way the accident occurred, with the primary objective of using the information learned to prevent a similar incident from occurring again at some point in the future. It may also be the case that this particular accident was not too serious, and the lessons learned and the subsequent control and preventative measures put in place as a result of the investigation findings help to prevent a much more serious accident from taking place.
Health and safety is an ongoing process of continuous improvement. By attending accident investigation health and safety courses, you will learn how to perform a suitable accident investigation, as well as how to use the information gathered from investigating an accident or near-miss to improve the safety at your organisation and reduce the chances of it happening again.
Management may be completely unaware of issues leading to the accident. For example, many accidents occur as a result of workers taking shortcuts or not going through all administrative procedures required when doing tasks, such as not filling in paperwork when performing maintenance on dangerous machinery. Managers may think everything is being done as it should be, when in fact a dangerous culture of side-stepping safety controls has become established. It is only after investigating the accident that it becomes known that this was taking place, and could have been prevented if management had monitored work processes more closely.
Accident Investigation Training
To find out more about our accident investigation course, which can be tailored to your particular industry and requirements, please click here.