Work accident trends in the UK
According the Health and safety Executive, the frequency of work accident incidents in the UK is downwards. This could be that organisations and individuals are becoming more safety conscious at work and that our working culture is becoming more accustomed to a structured approach to preventative working practices.
The trend doesn’t mean we can take our eye of the ball at work. Some 600,000 workers suffered a work accident in 2011/2012 and around 200,000 of these had to take more than three days off work to recover. Besides which, some jobs are just plain dangerous.
One in seven fatal work accidents were most commonly a result of explosion, electrical, fire or drowning. Over 60% of fatal injuries were caused by being trapped in a falling structure, falling from a height, or being hit by a moving object or vehicle.
Slips, trips and falls were the commonest cause of a work accident, followed by handling injuries, the two combined resulting in the loss of two million working days.
Statistics are always interesting in the way they reveal information and it is fair to say that we all need to take care even with the simplest of tasks. Whilst it is obvious that the fireman’s job is more hazardous than the fork-lift truck driver’s and that working on a building site is significantly more dangerous than working as a cleaner, workers often hurt themselves in the most commonplace situations.
Continuous vigilance is required in training people how to lift heavy goods, a sick person from a trolley to a bed, or the suitcase that is heavier than it looks. Not only that, but maintaining the vigilance is hard. Most accidents occur because somebody lost concentration for a moment. New workers are four times more likely to have an accident in their new job, than a worker who has been there for a year. If the “oldies” can monitor the “newbies”, it would be a good thing. As with most things in life, practice makes perfect.
Interestingly enough, it appears that injury rates increase in line with GDP. There are fewer injuries in a recession. Maybe the downward trend in the stats for work accidents in 2011/12 is telling us something else besides.