Knowing the hazards in your workplace is a good start towards preventing injuries. By making sure your employees are safe, you also create a more productive and happier workplace. Workplace injuries can affect your business, whether it’s due to lower staff morale, reduced productivity, lost sales, or even the collapse of your company. According to the Safe Work Australia (SFA) website(1), work-related injury and disease cost the Australian economy $61.8 billion a year.
The following five workplace accidents are the most common:
- Musculoskeletal Sprains and Strains
Lifting and handling heavy objects causes the vast majority of injuries in Australian workers, according to SFA. The latest statistics for sprains and strains of joints and muscles reveals that 41.8% of workers had to take time off for this injury. The most common causes of such injuries are poor handling practices from either improper training or habits that weren’t addressed. Workers in the construction industry must have a white card to confirm that they fully understand the hazards in their workplace and that they are aware of ways to safely lift and handle objects.
- Fractures, Falls, and Falling Objects
The second most common workplace injury in Australia is bone fractures and crushing, which account for 8.5% of accidents. Such injuries and fatalities are commonly caused by trips, slips and falls, and trapping a limb in machinery. Proper footwear and protective clothing such as hard hats and goggles are essential. Spills, loose cables and other objects should be kept off the floor, and hazardous machinery should have the proper safeguards in place.
Around six per cent of workers are injured in Australia due to falls from elevated heights. Workers should be completing their training and only work with adequate safety equipment. Another statistic reveals that 10 to 15% of worker sick days are the result of trips and falls while at work. Every company’s Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) officer should encourage all staff to keep the work environment tidy, with no trip hazards. While less than 5% of serious workplace injuries are due to falling objects, it is, after vehicle accidents, the second cause of work-related fatalities. To reduce the chances of such an accident, workers must wear the correct safety gear and follow WHS procedures.
- Open Wounds or Bruising
Open wound injuries account for 7.7% of time off work. OHS training should be completed by anyone working with machinery or sharp tools, and they should wear protective clothing. Bruising accounts for 6.4% of workplace accidents. Bruises, like fractures, are usually caused by falls and being hit by a falling or moving object. Again, safety clothing and training is essential.
- Soft Tissue Injuries (RSI)
Around 6.3% of all injury claims in Australian workplaces involve muscles, tendons and soft tissue damage caused by repetitive movements (especially if done incorrectly over long periods), or overexertion. This problem may take some time for symptoms to appear, but measures ought to be taken to prevent them from developing. When employees repeat the same actions all day, such as rolling dough, typing, washing windows, for instance, risk repetitive repeated use injury. The hands, wrists, forearms, shoulders and back are the main areas where this injury occurs.
- Psychological Stress and Bullying
Overwork stress and issues such as bullying in the workplace may cause an employee to need time off work. Psychological stress affects around five per cent of employees who need sick leave. Employers need to actively encourage workers to take regular breaks and hold casual meetings with staff to ensure they’re not feeling pressured by other employees, or weighed down by their workload.
There are other safety hazards in the workplace including chemical exposure, electric shock, and fires. All worksites and businesses must have the proper insurance policies to protect themselves and their workers in case any of the above incidents occur.
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Alex Morrison has worked with a range of businesses giving him an in depth understanding of many different industries including home improvement, financial support and health care. He has used his knowledge and experience to work for clients as diverse as MyHome Clean, Adroit Insurance and Me Bank to help them reach their business goals.