How Safe Is Your Office?
As a personal injury solicitor *, accident at work * is a common type of accident my clients face. While the cause of the accident, circumstances and injuries sustained may differ from case to case, some of the common factors I come across in many cases are:
* Breach in health and safety in the workplace,
* Hazardous working environment,
* Negligence on the part of the employer or other employees.
We know from PIAB’s annual report that there were 5,634 workplace accident claims * submitted to them for review in 2017. If we think logically, we may speculate that these included manual labour jobs, people working in the construction industry or warehouse operatives and such jobs that would be more at risk of occupational injury * – and we’d most likely be right! According to a report issued by the HSA work-related injuries were most common in semi-skilled manual jobs, such as assembly workers, fork-truck drivers, scaffolders and sewing machinists. Further to this, the next highest injury rate included groups of workers such as paramedics, artists, law enforcement and health and safety officers.
Yes, these jobs do expose their employees to higher risk of injury simply given the nature of their activities, but one work environment that is often overlooked as a ‘risky’ place to work is the office!
Workplace injuries * sustained in the office are more common than you think! The difference with office workers is that many simply do not expect that an accident hazard will be present in the office. If we compare this to construction workers, for example, construction workers know where the hazards are on a building site, they know what to do, what not to do, they are trained to do so. Office workers, while they will have had office safety training, many don’t think to look out for hazards that may injure them – they simply don’t expect it!
The most common types of office related accidents that I have seen in my career are:
* Slips, trips and falls * – In the office environment, simple mistakes can have an impact, for example, tripping over an open desk or file drawer, exposed wires on the ground, loose carpeting, objects in hallways or broken handrails on stairs have led to accidents.
* Manual handling * – while every office should give manual handling training to their employees, unfortunately there are some that don’t – so when a person lifts a heavy box of files, without the appropriate training to do so, they have been known to injure themselves.
* Repetitive Strain * – even the safest office environment can still cause injury for those who do not versed in the art of ergonomics. It is important that your workstation is set up correctly, your elbow at 90 degrees and your computer at eye level. Repetitive strain from those who sit in front of a computer all day every day has been known to cause carpal tunnel syndrome, amongst other musculoskeletal problems.
All these common office accidents * can cause injuries comparable to those injuries in the more high-risk workplaces. To reduce the risk off accident in your office:
* Make sure your desk is set up ergonomically,
* Take regular breaks, get up and move around,
* During winter months when people will make the floor slippery, most notably near the entrance, ensure that a wet floor sign is present – you could also put mats down to ensure some sort of traction when walking – if all else fails and you notice a wet floor – be extremely careful when walking!
* Use a headset, instead of the handset on your phone if you spend a lot of time on the phone,
* Keep your workplace tidy,
* Know the office emergency procedures and consult your office health and safety manual for tips on how to keep your space safe,
* If your office has not had manual handing training for quite some time (years) suggest it to management to organise it.
So next time you walk through the office and see an open drawer – close it, you see something left on the floor – move it (lifting with the knees!), see something that doesn’t look right and logically could cause an accident, report it to your management and remember just because you work in an office, doesn’t mean that you are not at risk of an accident!
Tracey Solicitors have 30 years’ of experience as specialist injury solicitors *. Tracey Solicitors ensure not to overwhelm you with legal jargon. We can provide you with legal advice and guidance with your best interest at heart, in a language that you can understand. For a confidential discussion please feel free to phone us on 00353 (0) 1649 9900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org . Tell us about your case.
*In contentious business a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.