In the current pandemic, the way we work has changed drastically this year more than ever before. Governments around the world are once again advising those who can work remotely from their home. But when it comes to industries like manufacturing, retail, and transport – this is just not possible. Therefore, these types of businesses need to focus on safety within the workplace in order to protect their employees now more than ever.
Not just because it’s the law, it is every employer’s moral responsibility to ensure their employee’s safety within the workplace – in terms of health and safety, and wellbeing. Although most employers are very aware of the safety concerns presented with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s actually the hidden dangers that are possibly posing the greatest threat to employees when it comes to their safety.
Concerns Regarding Safety Within The Workplace
Other than non-fatal injuries, the most common type of injuries in the workplace was from ‘slips, trips or falls on the same level’, according to the 2018/19 RIDDOR report. To be more specific, almost half of all non-fatal injuries during this period were due to this kind of accident or caused by ‘accidents during handling, lifting, or carrying’. These accidents could have been prevented through better workplace health and safety guidelines and more detailed risk evaluation.
According to the Health and Safety Executive, during 2018/19 581,000 workers endured non-fatal injuries, with 147 workplace deaths recorded for this period. But we see some hope, as the trends show that the numbers of both kinds of injuries are declining. According to the latest HSE report for 2019/20, there were 111 cases of workplace fatalities – the lowest number of workplace deaths on HSE’s records – which makes it clear that there is still more room for improvement.
For those who work in the field, or with heavy machinery or moving equipment, it’s evident that employers need to be more conscious about the dangers and take precautionary steps to ensure that their staff remains protected. Industries such as construction; agriculture, forestry and fishing; and manufacturing have been identified by the HSE as the most accident-prone sectors to work in – were falling from a height is the most common cause of workplace deaths.
Approximately 1.3% of working adults have been the victim of one or more violent incidents at their workplace, according to the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW). According to their reports, 739,000 cases of violence at work during the period of 2018/19, where 356,000 of them were assaults and 383,000 were threats. One particular concern here is unlike the other workplace injuries and fatalities, the number of violence-related cases is not declining, indicating that better safety measures need to be taken to minimize violence at the workplace.
Why Lone Workers Are Most at Risk
There are 53 million lone workers in the United States, Canada, and Europe combined – who work by themselves without close or any direct supervision across a wide range of industries and businesses, from real estate agents to health care workers to farmers. For these kinds of workers, it is vital that their respective HR departments work with them to ensure they are given, and follow, safety rules and procedures in their place of work. At the same time, it is equally important that the employees take responsibility for safety within the workplace.
The COVID-19 situation has also resulted in an increase in the number of remote workers, which means there are more ‘lone workers’ – employees working from home – than ever before. However, the risks may seem comparatively lower to those who work with the public or operate machinery, as they work in their own homes, where they are familiar and comfortable with their environment. But let’s not forget, there is an increased risk in terms of their work-life balance and exposing their family to hazardous elements that are related to their work.
The health care industries employ a large number of lone workers in order to provide vital care for those who are in their most vulnerable condition. Despite that, it is often the workers themselves who are the most at risk according to the Labour Force Survey for 2018/19, where 74,000 non-fatal work-related injuries were recorded for workers in the health and social care sector – attributing to some of the highest rates of workplace violence.
The agricultural industry is another place where lone workers are susceptible to injury, as they have to work with heavy machinery and unpredictable livestock. The number of fatal injuries in agriculture is almost 18 times higher than in any other industry, especially the workers over the age of 65 according to the HSE.
Safety within the workplace is one of the biggest issues right now and it is completely the responsibility of the employers and the business owners to ensure that their employees are working in a safe environment. They should also make sure that they keep on motivating and boosting the employees to keep them active during the working process.
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