When most of us head to work on a day, the last thing on our minds is the prospect of getting into an accident. Of course, there are industries where health and safety concerns are much more pressing in everyday work, but in virtually every sector there are underlying risks to even the most mundane of work days.
From a minor cut on the finger through to serious onsite accidents, a workplace injury can mean any number of things. Here, we look at the most common injuries you’re likely to run the risk of in the workplace, and how you can best avoid them across the course of your career.
The importance of health and safety at work
In the modern workplace, it might feel like health and safety regulation is being fairly relentlessly shoved down our throats at times, but there is plenty of reason for that.
Across the 2018/19 reporting year of RIDDOR from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), a total of 69,208 company reported incidents, coupled with 581,000 self-reported injuries from the Labour Force Survey (LFS), meant a total of 650,208 workplace injuries were recorded in the most recently reported 12-month period. Of those injuries, over 50,000 kept the worker in question off duty for over a week, but overall accident numbers were shown to have declined 6% from the four years previous.
From those numbers at least, the need for a continued emphasis on improved health and safety standards across all industries is obvious, both for the safety of workers themselves and for the operational efficiencies of the businesses that employ them.
The most common injuries at work
Workplace injuries can range from the minor through to the very serious and potentially fatal. Thankfully, incidents in the latter two categories are incredibly few and far between – instead, much of day-to-day health and safety consciousness should focus on more common workplace injuries occurring, including:
- Slips, trips and falls
- Muscle strains
- Being hit by falling objects
- Repetitive strain injury
- Crashes and collisions
- Cuts and lacerations
- Inhalation of toxic fumes
- Exposure to dangerous levels of noise
The severity of each of these hazards an vary wildly – what’s clear is it’s best to avoid all of them in any form at all.
Protecting yourself in the workplace
Because of the relatively commonplace nature of workplace accidents, there are no guarantees you’ll always be able to avoid bumps and scrapes. You can, however, do everything in your power to lower the chances of running into an accident, and there are some effective ways to do so:
- Ensure you’ve taken advantage of all the health and safety training and physical resources made available to you within your workplace.
- Be fully aware of all the potential risks in your given industry and workplace and how best to combat them.
- Invest in the right safety gear for your role – this may be provided to you by your employer or something you need to spend your own money on in a self-employed role or if you wish to buy non-standard equipment. Effective equipment includes the likes of kneeling pads, protective overalls, eye and ear protection, and safety boots.
- Practice sensible day-to-day behaviours – such as keeping your workspace clear and avoiding taking shortcuts during any potentially hazardous job.
Much of acting in a health and safety appropriate manner boils down to working with a sense of personal and collective responsibility within your team. Your priority as a member of staff in a team is to act in a manner deemed safe not only to yourself, but to those around you as well. These basics should be part of your health and safety training with your employer, but it’s important to remember those basics every day you step inside your workplace.