Danger in the workplace is common across almost every industry. Despite significant advancements in our understanding of health and safety, workplace hazards still pose a very real threat to workers in a number of more challenging environments.
Data from the most recent Labour Force Survey published on the HSE website provides valuable insight into which industries face the biggest risks when it comes to being injured or hurt on the job.
By comparing the figures for self-reported workplace injuries we will evaluate which industries pose the biggest threat to workers.
Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing
At the top of the list with regard to workplace injuries are the agriculture, forestry and commercial fishing industries. An average of 4.1% of workers experience non-fatal workplace injuries every year, which is significantly more than most other professions.
These are some of the more rural industries that pose unique threats due to their exposure to uncontrollable elements. Risk factors such as weather and general working conditions are usually significant hazards, although heavy machinery, industrial processes and harmful substances can add another layer of danger.
The second most common industry for injuries at work is construction, with an average of 2.8% of workers reporting injuries every year. With the size of the construction industry and the number of workers across the country, this represents a sizeable number of workplace injuries annually.
Working from heights, heavy machinery, moving vehicles, power tools and much more make it one of the more hazardous environments to work in. Personal injury claims are fairly common in construction settings because of the range of threats facing professionals at work.
Catering and Food Services
Following closely behind construction is the catering and food services industry. Around 2.4% of workers report workplace injuries each year but the hazards that these professionals face are somewhat different to the above.
Scalds and burns are more frequent amongst kitchen workers when dealing with hot food and boiling liquids, whilst cuts and lacerations can be easy to come by when using preparation equipment such as knives and blenders. Slips, trips and falls are also quite common in catering environments with spills and waste creating slippy surfaces and uneven surfaces.
Transportation and Storage
The fourth most hazardous industry is reported to be transportation and storage. Just over 2% of staff highlighted work-related injuries in a sector that encompasses many professions including air and freight travel, warehousing, logistics and others.
Moving vehicles are certainly a danger in these workplaces and musculoskeletal injuries can be recurrent from excessive lifting and carrying or repeated strain.
Mitigating the risks
Risks are inevitable in these industries and many others, but mitigating these risks as far as possible is essential to protect workers. The following measures are critical for employers to plan, implement and review on a regular basis:
Conducting thorough risk assessmentsProviding appropriate levels and types of PPECarrying out effective workplace trainingDeveloping a cohesive safety cultureEncouraging hazard and issue reporting from staff
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