Accident Prevention in the Office
What is the greatest danger you face in your working day? Where do the dangers lie? When will this accident happen to you?
You may, of course, work in a dangerous industry and regularly face serious dangers. If you\’re a miner operating heavy machinery, or a chemist handling hazardous materials, or a fire fighter entering burning buildings, then the dangers are obvious and adequate training is given as a matter of course. The hazards of working in an office may be less obvious, but are still there and proper training still needs to be given. For most of us some of the most serious dangers lie in wait for us as we simply walk from A to B!
Statistically, you are actually most likely to have an accident at work slipping, tripping or falling. The major injury statistics held by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that, year on year, around half of all major injuries to employees are caused by slipping, tripping and falling. Last year the figure rose to 57%, with 43 fatalities. The HSE statistics also show that the rate of injury increases steadily with age.
There are two main things to keep in mind if you are to reduce the risk of accidents in the workplace. Firstly, it is vitally important that one remains aware of the potential dangers that exist in one\’s environment. Secondly, one must take personal responsibility. Once on top of these two, prevention is an almost automatic outcome. A slip, tip or fall accident is usually caused by something which could have easily been avoided. .
Its not rocket science. Accident prevention training is clear and simple to understand. The causes of slips, trips and falls are highlighted and explained in such a way that the information is retained. Training needs to reinforce the message that we must responsibility for all those hazards we come across and not just those we cause ourselves. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 Section 7 – General duties of employees at work states that It shall be the duty of every employee while at work to take reasonable care for the health and safety of himself and of other persons who may be affected by his acts or omissions at work
So what should your slips, trips and falls training realistically cover?
Good housekeeping is probably the most fundamental requirement. This covers a range of responsibilities. Clean up anything dropped or spilt, as a third of major slips and trips happen on wet surfaces. Clear warning signs should be put in place until this is done. Keep walkways clear, especially stairs and entrances. Make sure areas are well-lit. Ensure floors and floor coverings are not a trip hazard. The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 when talking about the conditions of floors state that (2a) the floor shall have no hole or slope or be uneven or slippery so as to expose any person to a risk to his health and safety; and (3) every floor in a workplace shall be kept free from obstructions and from any article or substance which may cause a person to slip, trip or fall
The modern office is full of computers, printers, photocopiers and server stacks, and with them come a lot of cables and plenty of potential workplace accidents. With so many wires everywhere, it is all too easy for people to slip, trip or fall. So-called raceways can be used to cover up and secure cables to the floor, reducing trip hazards. Many modern office desks are fitted with grommets through which cables can be passed, so theyre not left hanging down the back of desks.
Accidents can also be caused by personal factors. Tiredness, feeling unwell, hurrying, complacency, distraction are all common causes. How many people walk and text at the same time? How many inadequately mop up some spilt coffee with a tissue and leave the desk smeared with a film of slippery liquid? How many idly swing back and forth on their swivel chair when bored? These are all slips, trips and falls waiting to happen!
Particularly dangerous areas include stairways, with the potential to fall so much further and harder. The HSE statistics show that almost as many people suffered injuries at work in 2009/2010 falling down stairs, as falling from a height (e.g. ladders, scaffolding, platforms). It\’s therefore an area where particular attention should be paid to the key factors of good housekeeping and personal factors.
Safety in the work place is not something that one reviews once and then it is done: it has to be an ongoing concern. Conduct regular checks for potentially unsafe situations. Reassess employees on a regular basis with consideration given to where additional training may be appropriate. If a slip, trip or fall does occur, then it is important you respond quickly and appropriately, collecting the facts and using the knowledge gained to prevent it happening again.
Its a simple message – too many serious accidents are happening when they really shouldn\’t be. In the majority of cases they are caused by individual carelessness and inattentiveness. With just a little extra consideration you help to protect yourself and your colleagues from workplace accidents.
We hope you found this article on
accidents in the workplace
helpful. If you would like to learn more about the subject then please visit our site. The author, Sarah Cushenan, works at the Interactive Health and Safety Company (iHasco).
Slips, trips and falls