People working in different types of job obviously face a range of different hazards.
For example, an office worker is much less at risk from burns than a chef – but there are a range of common accidents and injuries which occur across all occupational sectors – and trips/slips and falls invariably top the league.
In 2007/08, these accounted for almost four out of every 10 major workplace injuries. Other national statistics for the same year show that the most common ‘over-three-day injury’ was caused by handling, lifting or carrying
A total of 34 million work days were lost because of workplace-related accident or illness. Of these, 6 million were due to injuries within the workplace while 28 million were ‘work-related’ ill health days
A total of 229 people were killed at work and although this equates to just 0.8 per 100,000 workers, it is still a lot of lives lost.(Long term, death rates have fallen, but the fatality figures have changed very little over the past six years)
The most commonly cited workplace hazards involved in accidents/illness were manual handling, sitting for long periods and the handling of harmful substances
More than 2 million people believed that their current or previous type of work had caused them to suffer an illness or made a previous illness worse
Overall, the three most common types of accident/injury were:
- Trips/slips or falls
- Electrical incidents
- Manual handling/lifting
Some of the most common injuries were:
- Sprains and strains
- Back injury
- Head injury
- Neck injury
- Repetitive Strain Injury
Other less common injuries/illnesses in the workplace include occupational asthma, deafness, vibration white finger and dermatitis.
(Vibration white finger can cause the fingers to tingle, become numb or make it difficult to grip. The damage is usually irreversible and usually caused by excessive hand/ arm vibration.)
Agriculture tops the table when comparing accident figures between different business sectors with 2240 injuries per 100,000 workers, followed by Construction (1550) and Transport (1350).
Sectors reporting the lowest injury rates were Finance (310) and Education with 610 per 100,000 workers.
In 1999/2000, there were 117.3 reported ‘fatal and major injuries’ nationwide per 100,000 employees and although there was a blip between 2003-2005, this has continued to reduce and in 2007/08, it had dropped to 106.6.
Figures collected from 1996 – 2008 show that almost every year, the most common cause of fatal injuries was falling from a height. This was followed by transport accidents (which include being hit by a vehicle or falling from a vehicle.)
However, hundreds of people also died after being struck by a moving or falling object or being trapped by something falling or collapsing.
The type of vehicles involved in injury accidents over this 12 year period included cars, trucks and vans – but the highest level of injuries were related to fork-lift truck accidents.
There are an average of 1500 injury accidents involving fork lift trucks every year – and research suggests that a high percentage of these are due to lack of training for fork lift truck drivers or poor maintenance of the truck.
Most Common Risks
Overall, slips/trips and falls or damage caused by manual handling/lifting remain the main culprits of injury in the workplace.
The good news is that the government has set targets under the Revitalising Health and Safety initiative to reduce injuries and latest available figures show that the rate of both fatal and over-three-day accidents in the UK is substantially lower than in most other EU countries apart from Sweden and Ireland.