Top 10 Causes of an Accident at Work

First aid box and workman's hat

Accidents at work are more common than you may think, actually in 2019/20 65,427 injuries to employees were reported under RIDDOR. So, what causes an accident at work? Where does the majority of blame fall?

Some accidents happen thanks to the elements of chance and the convergence of fate. Some are simply a result of finding yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time. However, this isn’t always the whole story, as we reveal what are the top 10 causes of an accident at work.

Sometimes human errors are to blame, with negligence also cited. Based on ‘avoidable’ actions or decisions made by others. Typically, employers or work colleagues, when referencing causes of workplace accidents.

Extent of Workplace Accidents Eyebrow Raising 

Workplace injuries occur in a variety of employment settings, while no environment is immune. You only have to glance at the Health and Safety Executive’s roll call of workplace accident stats for 2020 to see the bigger picture. From a financial perspective, the numbers crunched are shocking too. Work-related injuries and illness accounted for nearly 40 million lost working days, while a staggering £16.2 billion is the estimated cost of injuries and ill health caused by current working conditions.

What Workplace Accidents Made Our Top 10 

So, let’s take a wide lens view of just what are universally recognised as the Top 10 causes of an accident at work. DIYPI have managed claims cases for a vast variety of injury types due to the neglect of an employer or work colleague.

In addition, we’ve also highlighted examples of how employers could actively prevent harm befalling their staff. Access to PPE, thorough and timely training and the use of clear signage as well as performing regular risk assessments, are just some of the ways employers can keep their staff safe and minimise the risk of an accident at work.

  1. Slips, Trips and Falls – Whoever had money riding on this as the number one cause of workplace accidents will be quid’s in right now. It’s not hard to see why slipping, tripping and falling are the most likely causes of an accident at work when considering that most employment environments are prone to slippery surfaces at one time or another, thanks to various spillages or leaks. A lot of these injuries can be avoided by simply adding a ‘wet floor sign’ to affected areas. Falling off ladders and scaffolding are sadly commonplace too, and arguably one of the biggest workplace accident risks.
  2. Muscle Strains – Picture the scene. An employee’s struggling to lift something and adopts poor posture/lifting technique. Cue a muscle strain, often relating to necks and backs. Another cause of muscle strains associated with neck and shoulder muscles is triggered by being hunched over our laptops for hours on end. Especially so during pandemic lockdown-enforced work from home measures. In this case your employer should provide manual handling training and provide adequate equipment while working from home, to lower the risk of injury.
  3. Being struck by falling objects – Not just an occupational hazard in warehousing and factory settings, but also can happen if items located in shelves and cupboards in office environs haven’t been stored properly, with health and safety in mind. Being hit by a falling object is never going to end well for anyone, let’s face it.
  4. Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) – Incrementally more prevalent in recent years, work-caused RSI is very much a sign of the tech times we live and work in. That being said, repetitive strain injuries aren’t just the preserve of those who routinely use keyboards. Any repeated motion of our joints can cumulatively impact, making even the simplest of movements more difficult and physically painful in severe cases. From an employer’s perspective, employees should always be encouraged to take breaks away from the keyboard and screen, while also ensuring that equipment is ergonomically adjusted according to individuals’ preferences.
  5. Crashes/Collisions – The coming together with immovable objects never tend to work out well for the fleshier of the two components. In workplace scenarios crash or impact injuries are fairly common. They can involve various external elements, including vehicles and forklift trucks; which understandably can lead to more serious consequences. Employers are therefore duty-bound to ensure the wearing of seatbelts and other safety precautions are in place/use where and when appropriate.
  6. Cuts and lacerations – Cuts can result from any number of human interactions with sharp objects, some of which are far more obvious than others. From paper to printing machinery itself, skin lacerations can manifest from many sources. More often than not, causes cited are poor training, failure to wear the appropriate PPE and inadequate safety procedures being in place. Employers can work towards avoiding the likelihood of cut injuries, by addressing the aforementioned issues.
  7. Toxic fume inhalation – Although only a relatively small percentage of people work with hazardous chemicals, nonetheless accidents do happen. The most recurrent example of which is skin or eye exposure. Safety goggles are therefore a priority from a PPE angle, along with any other items designed to safeguard employee health and safety. In terms of inhalation risks, face masks and dedicated breathing apparatus are indispensable.
  8. Loud noise – Industrial deafness is a personal injury which arises from employees being subjected to loud and continuous noises in the workplace. Although thought of as an industrial injury of the past, injuries caused by loud noises continue to populate personal injury claims. Suffice to say, the provision of suitable ear protection in such employment circumstances would go a long way to protect employees.
  9. Colliding with objects – We’ve all walked into a table edge, door left ajar or open cabinet drawer, when your mind is elsewhere. However, such collisions – as socially awkward as they may be – can also leave you with a nasty bruise, laceration or even episode of concussion. Again, another largely avoidable accident-waiting-to-happen when employers or work colleagues are reminded to be more aware of their immediate surroundings and potential injury flashpoints.
  10. Acts of violence – Surprisingly, fisticuffs at work aren’t as unusual as you might imagine. Workplace tensions can and do simmer for a long time before surfacing. Opinions can also be taken the wrong way, resulting in physical stand-offs. Of course, personal injuries can ensue. Which is why it’s important that employers have in place procedures for handling employee grievances and disputes, to minimise any heated situations boiling over.

If you have suffered from an accident at work such as any of the above, we can offer you free help and advice. Get in touch today to start your claim.

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