If you work in an office, whether you’re a secretary, a charity fundraiser or a lawyer, you’d be forgiven for thinking that your workplace is hardly the most dangerous place around. Most of us never stop to think about our personal safety when we’re at work, and offices seem like far less dangerous places than factories, warehouses or construction sites. But there is the potential for accidents to happen in almost any type of workplace, offices included.
Every year, thousands of people across the UK are injured in workplace accidents – in fact in 2015/16, 1.3 million people suffered from a work-related injury or illness, according to figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). So what are some of the most common causes of office accidents, how can you keep yourself safe at work, and what can you do if somebody else is to blame for your accident?
What are some common causes of office accidents?
Accident Advice Helpline has been helping members of the public claim compensation for accidents at work for over 16 years. During that time we have handled hundreds of claims for compensation after office accidents, and here are some of the most common causes of office accidents we have come across:
- Heavy lifting – lifting injuries to the neck, back, shoulders and arms are not uncommon in offices. You may be lifting smaller items such as files, paper and stationery, but these can be just as heavy and awkward as larger items in a warehouse or factory. Proper manual handling training can help to reduce the risk of these types of injuries.
- Slip, trip and fall hazards – Slipping on a wet floor, tripping over trailing cables or falling off a chair whilst trying to reach files on shelves are all common causes of office accidents which could result in serious injuries.
- Poor workstation setup – A poorly set up workstation could lead to serious injuries such as eye problems, back, neck and shoulder problems and RSI. It’s important to ensure that your computer, desk and chair are all at the correct height and that your chair provides you with adequate support.
- Stress or overwork – Taking regular breaks is essential in any job, but particularly for office workers where you could otherwise be sitting for long periods of time. A quick break to stretch your legs and arms will help to reduce the risk of RSI and other injuries.
- Faulty equipment – Faulty equipment is actually responsible for more office accidents than you might think. A frayed kettle lead, faulty photocopier or broken shelf could easily lead to an injury and your employer could be held liable and ordered to pay you personal injury compensation.
Staying safe at the office
In 2015/16, 621,000 workers sustained a non-fatal injury in workplace accidents in the UK, some of which were due to common causes of office accidents. Of these injuries, 20% were caused by lifting and carrying, whilst 19% were due to slips and trips. So how can you protect yourself and stay safe at work? Reporting any issues to your employer is important – so if you spot damaged flooring or trailing cables, make sure your employer is aware of this issue; it’s their responsibility to fix it. Being aware of your surroundings and not taking any unnecessary risks (such as standing on a chair to reach shelves) can reduce your risk of being injured in an accident at work, as can making sure you keep your desk and the surrounding area clean, tidy and clutter-free, to prevent tripping hazards. Ensure that your employer provides you with the training you need to do your job safely – for office workers this includes carrying out a workstation assessment to ensure that your desk and chair are set up properly, reducing your risk of injury.
Who is to blame for your accident?
Even being aware of the most common causes of office accidents doesn’t eliminate your risk of being injured in an accident at work. If the worst has happened then you could find that your employer is held liable and ordered to pay you personal injury compensation for your injuries. You may have broken your ankle after tripping on trailing cables or suffered an electric shock from a faulty kettle in the office kitchen – provided you received medical attention for your injuries then it should be possible to make a personal injury claim within three years of your accident. With 27 million days lost to work-related ill health or injury in 2011/12, employers should take health and safety at work very seriously, as it could cost them dear.
Not only could taking time off work mean that your employer needs to pay you sick pay (and possibly hire a temp to cover your duties), it also means that they may be ordered to pay you personal injury compensation if they are responsible for the accident that led to your injuries. If you’re concerned about safety at work after your accident, you could even report your employer to the HSE, who may carry out their own investigations and take action against your employer.
Should you make a personal injury claim?
There is no reason not to make a personal injury claim after your accident – after all, if somebody else was to blame due to these common causes of office accidents, why should you suffer in silence? Accident Advice Helpline has been helping people claim compensation for office accidents since 2000, and during that time we have seen injuries ranging from minor strains and sprains to serious, life-changing head and facial injuries. However you have been injured, you could be entitled to compensation, and you don’t need to worry about losing your job.
Employers have liability insurance in place in the event a member of staff makes a personal injury claim, and in most cases you won’t even have to go to court to get your personal injury settlement. You can call our freephone helpline today on 0800 689 5659, to get advice from our expert advisors and find out more about making a no win no fee claim.