As any experienced safety consultant will be able to tell you, there are some common underlying causes when it comes to workplace safety incidents in Australia. Although there will naturally be some regional variations, and differences between industries, generally speaking it has been found that these are six of the most common causes of incidents in the workplace.
1. Lifting, carrying and moving
Safe Work Australia has found that 16% of all worker’s compensation claims in this country are due to muscular stress caused by lifting or carrying objects at work, while a further 16% are the result of handling objects. What this tells us is that too many organisations that rely on workers manually moving stock are not sufficiently well equipped when it comes to materials handling equipment. Any workplace that finds itself with workers regularly unable to work due to injuries caused by lifting, carrying or moving should be looking at manual handling products that can help to alleviate the stress.
2. Slipping, tripping and falling
Workers slipping, tripping or falling is another very common form of workplace injury across all sectors and industries in Australia. And this sort of workplace accident is not confined to what are normally thought of as high risk environments — people are injured in this way in just about every type of workplace. Falling in particular can be extremely hazardous, and on average 13% of all workplace fatalities in Australia each year are the result of falling from heights. Environmental features of the workplace are the most common cause of this type of injury; however, this also means that many such incidents can be avoided through better organisation and safety practices.
3. Mental stress and pressure
Less visible and perhaps less instantly recognisable than most physical injuries, mental stress is an increasingly significant contributing factor in Australian worker’s compensation claims. And, like accidents caused by tripping or falling, it affects workers in every type of organisation and sector across the country. There are, however, useful guidelines in place from Safe Work Australia on how PCBUs can meet their WHS obligations with regard to safeguarding mental health in the workplace, with particular advice on the necessity and benefits of early intervention.
4. Vehicle incidents
Perhaps unsurprisingly, incidents involving vehicles are the most common cause of workplace fatality in Australia, with 34% all deaths involving a vehicle of some sort (25% of all fatalities were associated with trucks). The pressure of working to time, combined with shift work and associated fatigue, are the most common causes of accident involving road transport workers, but working with vehicles can also pose risks as a result of working at heights and the manual handling of goods. Likewise, any workplace where vehicles and pedestrians share the space, such as in a warehouse or storage facility, also represents potential hazards.
5. Insufficient safety training
Insufficient safety training, or out-of-date training that no longer meets the needs of the workforce, is another underlying cause behind many workplace incidents in Australia. Any organisation that takes safety seriously will ensure that its Safety Management System (SMS) has evolved along with the business, and that regular training is provided to staff so that it reflects current workplace hazards and risks. Accidents are more likely to occur when workers are not up to speed with appropriate safety measures and protocols, and so regular safety training in the workplace is essential in order to minimise the risk of workplace incidents.
6. Inappropriate PPE
Inappropriate or ill-fitting personal protective equipment (PPE), or a lack of it, can be a further contributing factor to Australian workplace incidents. However, the provision of effective PPE is not only a part of WHS obligations, but should also be seen as central to any risk management strategy and at the heart of an organisation’s safety culture. PPE is designed to provide protection against many different types of workplace hazards, and its effective use can cut the number of accidents and injuries that occur or, if they do occur, reduce the impact and potential harm.
Barclay Safety Solutions
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