When it comes to our wellbeing, staying fit and healthy involves more than exercise and a balanced diet. Workplace accidents are among the biggest threats to the fitness and health of those of us who work for a living.
Accidents at work don’t just happen to people who work in obviously dangerous occupations, such as firefighters, paramedics, and the police. Factory and industrial workers, farmworkers and others in physically demanding occupations risk getting injured if something goes wrong.
However, less obvious are the dangers inherent in more sedentary occupations. Overusing and misusing technology and how we work daily with digital equipment can also lead to injury and illness. Spending too much time at our workstations without the correct set-up of screens, keyboards, and chairs can lead to some nasty long-term medical conditions, such as damage to our eyesight, RSI (repetitive strain injury), or neck and back injuries.
While we may not control others’ actions, we can take measures to ensure our safety. This article explores ten strategies that can significantly reduce the risk of accidents by promoting awareness, following safety procedures, maintaining a clutter-free workspace, reporting hazards, seeking proper training, and implementing proactive measures.
Not all the suggestions below may apply to your work, but some will, however you make your living!
1. Stay Alert and Focused
Maintaining attentiveness throughout the workday is essential to avoid accidents. Distractions can lead to errors and mishaps. Minimising distractions such as excessive noise, interruptions, or personal devices is crucial. You can make better decisions and respond promptly to potential hazards by staying alert and focused. You’ll also find added benefits: working better and being more productive!
2. Follow Safety Procedures
Adherence to safety procedures is fundamental in preventing workplace accidents. Employers should establish clear safety protocols and ensure employees receive proper training and guidance.
As an employee, you must be familiar with emergency procedures, utilise any protective gear you are provided with (and ask for it if you are not). You also need to understand the correct operation of any machinery and equipment you use regularly. If you aren’t provided with sufficient information to help you achieve this goal, ask your employer to make it available.
3. Maintain a Clutter-Free Workspace
A cluttered workspace hampers productivity and increases the risk of accidents. Regularly organising and decluttering work areas can minimise tripping hazards and promote a clean and efficient environment. Get into the habit of keeping your workstation tidy and adequately storing equipment when not in use. This suggestion equally applies to you if you work from home, as much as it does if you are office-based.
4. Report Hazards and Near-Miss Incidents
Creating a culture of reporting hazards and near-miss incidents is crucial for maintaining a safe work environment. This ‘culture’ should be instigated by your employer, but if it doesn’t, you should still report any potential hazards or near-miss incidents promptly. By doing so you will enable management to identify and rectify potential risks, preventing accidents from occurring in the future.
5. Obtain Effective Training
Proper training is essential for employees to understand and apply safety protocols effectively. Employers should invest in comprehensive training programs covering equipment operation, emergency procedures, and hazard identification. They should also provide regular refresher courses to ensure employees stay updated with best practices.
If you don’t feel your employer is doing all they should be doing regarding training, raise the fact with them. You may be able to seek out the services of a specialist accident at work claims solicitor if something goes wrong through a lack of training and, as a result, you suffer injury. Nevertheless, it would help if you didn’t have an accident in the first place.
So, ask them to help you, and you’ll be helping them from the prospect of facing a personal injury claim!
6. Promote Ergonomics
Ergonomic considerations play a vital role in preventing workplace accidents and injuries.
Employers should provide ergonomic assessments to ensure workstations are correctly set up to minimise strain and discomfort. This includes providing adjustable chairs, ergonomic keyboards, and proper monitor positioning to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders.
Some employers may become a bit lax in this area. After all, how many people get injured whilst sitting at their desks? The answer is ‘plenty’. So, if your employer is a bit laid back, take the matter into your own hands. If you work from home, ask for help to set up your workstation correctly.
7. Take Regular Breaks and Rest
Fatigue can significantly impact your ability to stay alert and focused, increasing the risk of accidents. Take regular breaks and ensure you have sufficient time for rest and recovery. After all, your boss is obliged to provide you with enough rest time. It’s set out by law in the Working Time Regulations 1998, an Act of Parliament.
Adequate rest helps maintain concentration levels and reduces the likelihood of errors or lapses in judgment.
8. Conduct Regular Safety Inspections
Regular safety inspections are crucial in identifying potential hazards and maintaining a safe work environment. Employers should conduct routine inspections to assess the condition of equipment, identify potential risks, and address any maintenance issues promptly. This proactive approach ensures that potential accidents are mitigated before they occur. You can help them by notifying them if you spot any problems before they do.
9. Foster Open Communication
Establishing open lines of communication between employees and management is essential for creating a safe work environment. Share your concerns, suggestions, and ideas regarding workplace safety with those in charge, even if they are not particularly forthcoming themselves. Regular safety meetings and feedback sessions can help identify areas in need of improvement and create a continuous learning culture.
10. Stay Informed and Updated
Workplace safety regulations and best practices are constantly evolving. Both you and your employer must stay informed about the latest safety guidelines and industry-specific regulations. Employers should regularly review and update safety policies and procedures to align with current standards and practices. You should ensure you remain up to date with what you need to do your work safely.
Many of us meticulously maintain our physical health and wellbeing outside the workplace.
However, it is equally crucial to take the need to stay safe while at work seriously.
By law, our employers are obliged to do all they reasonably can to ensure we don’t come to any harm whilst working for them. Most employers take their responsibilities seriously; a few don’t.
However, this article concerns us doing what we can to stay safe and injury-free during working hours. If, despite our best endeavours, we have an employer who repeatedly fails to do all they reasonably can to keep us safe at work, it’s perhaps time for a change and find an employer who will put our health and safety first.