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The Importance of Workplace Safety: Tips and Tricks for Promoting Safety in the Office

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Despite the best efforts of employers, accidents in the workplace are an unfortunate reality. In many cases, accidents can cause injuries to workers, visitors and members of the public, and if a business has failed to implement the necessary health and safety procedures, it will be held responsible. Injuries among members of staff can lead to a loss of productivity, but more importantly, can negatively impact the lives of workers and cause them to take legal action against a business.

While some workplaces may seem more dangerous than others, accidents can happen anywhere. The agriculture, forestry, fishing and construction sectors had the highest rates of non-fatal accidents in the UK in 2022, according to statistics from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), but many of the most common types of accidents – a list that includes slips, trips and falls, handling, lifting and carrying injuries, and acts of violence – can happen in any workplace.

In fact, the perceived relative safety of offices and office work compared with more physical types of activity can heighten the risk of injury, because some employers fail to take potential dangers seriously. Here, the expert accidents at work lawyers at Graham Coffey & Co. Solicitors explain some of the most common accidents that can occur in an office environment, the injuries they can cause, and the steps employers should take to mitigate these risks and prevent injury wherever possible.

How employers can mitigate risk

Before we offer any tips for managing health and safety in the workplace, it is important to say that an employer’s foremost consideration should be their legal responsibilities. The HSE has a large volume of guidance available that can help businesses to understand and fulfil their legal duties. To maximise your ability to prevent accidents, and to avoid any possible legal consequences that might arise in the event that someone is injured, you must ensure that your workplace policies fully comply with the law.

If employees will be required to undertake high-risk activities – whether this means operating specialised and potentially dangerous equipment, or simply lifting and carrying – they should be given appropriate training. In this way, you can be sure that your workforce understands how to act in the safest way possible and minimise the risk of accidents. If someone is injured, it is more likely to be because they ignored their training or failed to follow a policy, rather than that they were unaware of the risk.

One of your legal duties as an employer is to perform a risk assessment, and it may be useful to look at accident statistics when you carry this out. This can help you to understand the most common risks faced by workplaces in your industry, which allows you to take steps to mitigate them, and may also help to identify possibilities that you would not have otherwise considered.

Tips for preventing accidents and injuries at work

There are a number of common workplace accidents that pose a specific risk in an office environment. Here, we have listed the most common examples of injuries that we see among our clients and offered advice on how employers can lower the risk in their workplaces.

Slips, trips and falls

In 2022, slips, trips and falls were the most common type of non-fatal accident across all UK workplaces. These accidents are a particular risk in offices, as they can be caused by various factors like loose carpeting, wet floors, cluttered walkways, or poorly maintained staircases.

While it may seem that these incidents are often relatively minor, employees may be able to sue your business for compensation if they slip, trip or fall for any of the above reasons and sustain an injury as a result.

Regular maintenance and cleaning can help mitigate this risk – this may include putting up signs to warn of the risks of clutter, implementing procedures to prevent things being left in walkways, or using cable ties and other management tools to prevent trailing cables.

Make sure to promptly clean or clearly mark any wet floors. It is vital to have enough wet floor signs to indicate more than one spill, to ensure that anyone who is passing through the area is aware and can avoid slippery surfaces. Failure to notify workers of a wet floor may make a business liable for any accidents that occur.

Ergonomic injuries

These injuries can arise from poor workstation setup, prolonged periods of sitting down, and repetitive motions like typing. These can lead to repetitive strain injuries or result in longer-term problems, including musculoskeletal disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome or back pain.

As a workplace, you should enable and encourage workers to take regular breaks. You may also consider offering desk exercises to help employees stay healthy, or investing in ergonomic furniture or equipment for employees who need this. Try to vary workloads so that employees are not made to perform repetitive motions or tasks for long stretches of time, or provide any necessary PPE that can mitigate the possibility of ergonomic injuries.

Electrical accidents

Improper use of electrical equipment, or poorly maintained equipment, can lead to shocks, burns, and in extreme cases, fires. Encourage employees to report any issues with equipment and ensure proper usage training is provided for any unusual or high-risk electrical equipment. You should also provide fire extinguishers that are suitable for electrical fires, along with any others that you might need. You should also ensure that you meet PAT testing requirements for any electrical equipment.

Manual handling injuries

Office environments may not involve heavy lifting to the same degree as other industries, but injuries can still occur from incorrect lifting or moving. Workplaces where lifting and carrying is uncommon may fail to provide training to employees who will carry out these duties, which can result in injury.

Provide manual handling training to employees if this is a risk in your workplace, and ensure that items are stored at safe heights. Consider providing equipment such as trolleys or carts to assist in moving heavier objects, if this is a more regular occurrence.

Remember, as an employer, you have a duty of care to ensure your employees’ health, safety, and wellbeing. Regular risk assessments and appropriate training can go a long way in preventing accidents in the workplace.

If you have been injured in an accident at work that was not your fault, it is important to speak to an expert personal injury solicitor about your potential to claim compensation. This can not only prevent you from making any financial losses as a result of your injury, but will hold the responsible party accountable and help to prevent further accidents of the same type in the future.

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