In 2016/17, more than half a million non-fatal injuries to workers were reported, according to government statistics. Although offices are considered low-risk environments, this doesn’t mean workers and employers should let their health and safety standards slip. The office is not a risk-free zone.
While employers have a legal duty to provide a safe work environment for their employees, workers are also responsible for protecting themselves and their colleagues from accidents and injuries at work.
Here are a few tips on how workers can eliminate the risk of workplace accidents in the office and help their fellow employees avoid them to.
Risk: Slips, trips and falls
Slips, trips and falls are some of the most common workplace accidents to happen in an office. Injuries from slips, trips or falls can range from a sprained ligament to a broken bone, depending on the individual and the severity of the accident.
Keep the office area tidy. If there is a spillage on the floor, display a wet floor sign until the area is dry. Keep walkways clear to prevent your colleagues from tripping over misplaced objects, and make sure drawers are shut after opening them to avoid colleagues tripping and hurting themselves. Keep cables and wires tidy and make sure they are identified by warning signs if they are exposed, as trailing wires are dangerous.
Risk: Catching a virus
While it’s difficult to avoid getting ill, there are a few things you can do to eliminate the risk of yourself and others catching a virus.
Avoid contagious illnesses spreading among colleagues by looking after your personal hygiene and cleanliness in the office. If you are feeling unwell, consider taking sick leave to rest until you are feeling better. Some employers provide flu vaccinations and health checks for their workers so it’s worth checking if this is something your employer offers.
Risk: Fire accidents
The most common causes of fire accidents in the office are wiring hazards and faulty electronics. While an office fire may seem unlikely, the risk exists and they can have serious consequences.
Reduce the risk of fire accidents by being vigilant. Conduct regular visual checks. Make your employer aware of any defects to the wiring or electronics in the office. You should have drills for fire evacuation, so make sure you and your colleagues follow these fire safety procedures and evacuate the building safely.
Risk: Ergonomic injuries
More than 500,000 workers suffered from work-related musculoskeletal disorders in 2016/17, according to government figures. Manual handling injuries are also a risk in the office. These injuries are usually associated with work patterns and are sustained as a result of being in the same body position for a long period of time or from continual repetition of movements.
To avoid upper-body injuries or postural problems, make sure your workstation enables you to sit at the right height behind your desk and computer. Typing on a keyboard, moving your mouse, and working between two screens can, over time, strain your wrists, hands, arms and neck. So, make sure you are comfortable. Report any concerns you have and make sure you are given the correct equipment to enable you to be comfortable.
Manual handling injuries are a matter of common sense but also training. You should be trained in how to handle objects. If you are lifting heavy objects, ask if you can have additional help, or if there is a way of carrying out the lifting that doesn’t involve you manually doing it – is there a hoist you can use?
If in doubt, ask questions and raise queries
It’s important to let your employer know if you have any concern about your health and safety at work. If you have a workplace representative, you should raise your worries with them. They are best placed to bring them up with your employer. Whether it is an individual at work or a trade union representative you raise your question with, it is important to write a note of what was raised and what the response was. The note made will become important evidence and can be very helpful, if the concern isn’t dealt with and something goes wrong, or if you wish to make any personal injury claim.
As one of the UK’s leading personal injury law firms, Thompsons Solicitors has decades of experience supporting injured workers to make workplace accident claims. Our specialist team can provide exceptional legal advice and help you secure the maximum amount of compensation you deserve for your injury.