Injuries in the workplace are not uncommon and some of the facts presented here may come as a shock to those who are reading.
According to the HSE, last year in the UK over 1.2 million people were reported to be suffering from a work related illness. On top of this, 144 people were killed at work during the 2014/15 period. Injury and work related illness has cost on average, a total of £14.3 billion per year. That equates to an average of over £70 billion in costs in the space of just 5 years.
During the 2015 period, 27.3 million days were lost due to work related illness and injury.
It is estimated that around 13,000 people die each year from work related illnesses that were caused by harmful dust or chemicals at work, such as asbestos. 8000 of these deaths per year are related to cancer developed from poor working environments. Prolonged exposure to harmful chemicals will cause damage, which can develop over years. Many people are dying now due to the chemicals and dust they were exposed to at work. Thankfully, health and safety is a lot stricter now than it ever was, which means we will see a big reduction of work related deaths in the future .
COPD, also known as, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, is one of the biggest killers caused by work. This disease develops from being exposed to harmful vapours, gases, dust and fumes. Asbestos related deaths were by far the biggest cause of death in the workplace. Harmful asbestos can become lodged in the lungs, which can cause breathing problems and develop cancer.
In 2014, over 230,000 people were suffering from depression or anxiety illnesses. It is estimated that depression related illnesses cost around £9 billion a year.
Dependant on your workplace, you may be more prone to illness than others. Did you know that bakers and vehicle paint sprayers are more likely to develop asthma, where as hairdressers, florists and barbers are more likely to get a skin disease such as dermatitis.
Over the last 20 years, fatalities in the workplace have reduced greatly each year, however since 2009 the trend has not continued this way.
Workplace risks are not just physical as many can be psychosocial. Psychosocial risks include dealing with difficult customers, time pressure, job insecurity or long and irregular hours. These risks can put a strain on a persons mentality and wellbeing.
WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON INJURIES AT WORK?
In regards to injury within a workplace, the most common accidents are slips, trips, electrical and poor manual handling / lifting.
The most common injuries are strains, sprains , neck/back/head injury and RSI. RSI stands for repetitive strain injury and is common in many workplaces, including offices. People in offices are prone to RSI if their job involves a lot of repetitive tasks such as typing. RSI, in severe cases, can stop a person from working all together.
Slips and falls make up a lot of the accidents at work. Advances in health and safety aim to decrease the number of accidents. Special regulations mean that slippery floors must be marked by safety signs to warn a passer by that the floor poses a potential risk. Incorrect posture whilst lifting is also a reason for injury. It is essential for any employer to teach their staff the correct way to handle goods manually. People without correct training on how to lift objects can easily cause stress on their back or neck, which can result in serious injury.
Most injuries at work are caused by improper training, unsafe environments or job pressure. Some employers may put pressure on staff to get work done. This pressure can lead to cutting corners, which can be fatal. For example, a worker could not put his helmet on to save time, which would prove to be very unsafe.
HOW CAN INJURIES BE AVOIDED AT WORK?
There are many ways to avoid an injury at work. A common way is via education. New regulations and standards in health and safety mean that workplaces are a lot safer than they once were as workers are now protected by law. It is an employers responsibility to ensure that an environment is safe to work in and that all employees have the correct PPE to remain safe. Incorrect training methods can lead to accidents, which can be life threatening.
TIPS TO AVOID ACCIDENTS IN A MANUAL LABOUR ROLE
Don't rush your work. Health and safety comes before anything else.
Always wear the PPE provided.
Speak to your employer if you feel a situation is unsafe.
Do not drink alcohol or take drugs at work that will affect your performance.
Only operate machinery if your are qualified to do so.
If you are unsure how to lift something, ask your employer for guidance.
If an object is too heavy to carry, request the help of someone else.
Stay hydrated at all times.
Get enough sleep to prevent yourself from becoming a hazard to you and others around you.
TIPS TO AVOID ACCIDENTS IN AN OFFICE ROLE
Ensure you are sitting on comfortable chair with correct posture. (not slouching)
Prolonged computer use can cause eye damage, make sure you take breaks to avoid stress on your eyes.
Stay hydrated at all times.
Take regular breaks from repetitive activities such as typing.
Ensure you know the procedure in the event of a fire.
Speak with somebody if you are feeling depressed
It is an employers responsibility to keep the workplace safe but it is an employees responsibility to stay alert. If you are an employer, make sure you are alert at all times. The use of drink and drugs can have a negative effect on work and can put you and others at risk. Do not take any mind altering substances as these will affect work and pose a health and safety risk. The operation of heavy machinery means it is vital for the operator to stay alert, one wrong move and it can be fatal.
If you ever feel there is a risk, stop what you are doing and evaluate the situation with your employer. Neglect is a big cause of injury.
It is estimated that 1.2 million people have had ill health or injuries worsened by continuing to work. This number could have been prevented. Speak to your doctor and go on their advice if you have an injury or illness.
DO I HAVE TO BUY MY OWN PPE?
If you are an employee, it is your employers responsibility to keep you as safe as possible. This means they will need to ensure that the environment you are working in is fit for work. It means they will need to assess the level of protection you require and provide you with appropriate PPE. In construction, you should not be allowed to work on a building site without head protection due to the risks of falling objects or projectiles. It is your employers responsibility to keep you as protected as possible. If you feel like you are missing PPE or you feel unsafe, make sure you speak to your employer. If you feel like your employer is not keeping you safe, you can report to the HSE as you protected by law.
WORK PLACE INJURY QUICK FACTS
- Over half as many workers were fatally injured in comparison to 20 years ago
- 3% of all construction workers will obtain a workplace injury
- Over 23% of work injuries are due to slips or falls
- 22% of injuries at work were the result of lifting and handling
- Stats show health and social jobs produce the highest work related stress
- Information and communication roles are statistically the safest jobs
- Work related illness costs the UK around £9.4 billion each year
- Work related injury costs the UK around £4.9 billion each year
HEALTH AND SAFETY ADVICE FOR EMPLOYERS
As an employer it is your duty to ensure your employees are working in a safe environment and that they are protected. This includes purchasing any safety equipment such as hi vis clothing and will also mean you would have to buy PPE. It is vital that you carry out health and safety risk assessments to protect both you and your employees. By neglecting health and safety, you put you and others at risk of illness, injury or fatalities. You can personally be fined for up to £20,000 and face up to 12 months in prison.
INJURY FACTS BY REGION
This data is based upon statistics provided by the HSE during 2013/14
INJURY STATISTICS IN WALES
Wales had a non fatal injury rate of 2,640 per 100,000 people.
Wales had a fatal rate of 9 per 100,000 people making it one of the lowest.
40 of these cases resulted in prosecution
INJURY STATISTICS IN THE EAST OF ENGLAND
The east of England had a non fatal injury rate of 2240 per 100,000 people.
The east of England had a fatal rate of 11
88 of these cases resulted in prosecution, which is one of the highest
INJURY STATISTICS IN SOUTH EAST ENGLAND
South east England had a non fatal injury rate of 2210 per 100,000 people.
South east England had a fatal rate of 11
77 of these cases resulted in prosecution
INJURY STATISTICS IN SOUTH WEST ENGLAND
South east England had a non fatal injury rate of 2360 per 100,000 people.
South east England had a fatal rate of 19, which is very high.
79 of these cases resulted in prosecution
INJURY STATISTICS IN LONDON
London had a non fatal rate of 1470 per 100,000 people, which is the lowest.
London had a fatal rate of 9
63 of these cases resulted in prosecution
INJURY STATISTICS IN EAST MIDLANDS
East Midlands had a non fatal rate of 2700 per 100,000 people
West Midlands had a fatal rate of 14
70 of these cases resulted in prosecution
INJURY STATISTICS IN WEST MIDLANDS
West Midlands had a non fatal rate of 2270 per 100,000 people
West Midlands had a fatal rate of 11
69 of these cases resulted in prosecution
INJURY STATISTICS IN NORTH WEST ENGLAND
North west England had a non fatal rate of 1900 per 100,000 people
North west England had a fatal rate of 20
104 of these cases resulted in prosecution, which is the highest.
INJURY STATISTICS IN NORTH EAST ENGLAND
North East England had a non fatal rate of 1820 per 100,000 people
North East England had a fatal rate of 1 , which is the lowest.
28 of these cases resulted in prosecution, which is the highest.
INJURY STATISTICS IN SCOTLAND
Scotland had a non fatal rate of 2230 per 100,000 people
Scotland had a fatal rate of 20 per 100,000 people, which is the highest.
72 of these cases resulted in prosecution, which is the highest.
From this data we can see that the highest fatal injury rates are in Scotland. This data also shows that the north west of England are the most likely to conduct a prosecution. London had the second lowest non fatal rate after the North east of England, which just had 1 fatality in the 2013/14 period.
INFORMATION ON MESOTHELIOMA
WHAT IS MESOTHELIOMA?
Mesothelioma is a cancer of the mesothelial tissue. This form of cancer is associated with exposure of asbestos. This type of cancer can take years to develop and like any cancer, can eventually be fatal. First symptoms include chest pains, husky voice, breathing difficulties , a persistent cough, weight loss and fatigue (tiredness). The earlier this cancer is diagnosed, the higher the likelihood there is of it being treated .
WHAT IS ASBESTOS?
Asbestos is a heat resistant material, which was used in both commercial and industrial applications. It is now listed as a toxic material and proven to be cancer causing. Asbestos was commonly used up until its decline in the 1970s. There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos. Asbestos can still be found in any building refurbished or built before the 2000s and kills around 5000 workers each year. New buildings no longer use asbestos, however past exposure kills around 20 tradesmen per week.
HOW DOES ASBESTOS CAUSE CANCER?
Asbestos is made up of tiny fibres that are near on invisible to the naked eye. These dangerous fibres can cause serious damage when inhaled. Inhaling asbestos will not effect you straight away and can take a long time for the damage to develop. This is why people are affected years after they come in contact with asbestos. Often, once diagnosed it is already too late.
INCIDENTS IN THE UK COMPARED WITH THE EU
Statistically, the incident rate in the UK is lower than that compared to the rest of the EU. The UK has the lowest fatality rate in comparison with its EU neighbours. In the 2014 work period, over 92% of surveyed workplaces undertook regular health and safety risk assessments. This is larger than EU countries such as France, who only had a 56% risk assessment rate. As a general trend, the UK and EU majority have all improved on health and safety in the last 20 years, which means workplaces across Europe are now a lot safer than they were a couple of decades ago.