Workplace fatalities and major injuries are the biggest cause for concern when it comes to protecting the safety of employees at work.
An annual report by the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) states a 33% rise in workplace fatalities.
“Workplace deaths are heart-breaking and unacceptable. These events impact so many people and cause such devastation to families, communities, work colleagues, employers and the emergency services who attend these incidents” Keith Morrison, HSENI’s Chief Executive.
Of all fatalities that occurred in Northern Ireland between 2016-17, the majority took place in the farming industry. We recently published a blog post that looked into the shocking truth about deaths within the farming industry and ways to help prevent deaths while working in a farm. The construction industry was the next in line, closely followed by other industries such as manufacturing and waste management/extraction.
Falls from a height was the greatest cause of fatal accidents this year and accumulated to around 26 fatal injuries in the last 5 years (HSENI, 2017).
What can be done to prevent workplace fatalities?
Although fatal accidents at work are unpredictable, steps can be taken by organisations to prevent them from occurring and help protect the safety & well-being of each employee. We highlight some of these below:
It’s important for organisations to conduct risk assessments to understand the risk and hazards associated with each job role. Organisations can follow the simple 5-step risk assessment introduced by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), to set up an action plan and communicate the findings with their employees. Conducting risk assessments also help to arrange precautions for each role. For instance, if an employee is required to work alone for long periods of time, they can look into implementing a lone worker solution. This would help the employee raise an alarm if they suffer an accident or injury whilst working alone.
Employers should take necessary steps to implement a robust training procedure for all their employees. This will help them understand the risks associated with their job roles. The findings from the risk assessment would also help with the training.
Statistics show that new employees are more likely to suffer from an injury whilst carrying out their duties. By developing a robust new employee training process and focusing on understanding the life-threatening risks of their job role, this would help towards fatality prevention.
Engagement and Reporting
Accidents are unpredictable and it’s easy to miss hazards that could have serious implications to someone. Involving employees in the health and safety process could help save lives. It offers a chance to provide more insight about the dangers they’ve faced. Employees should also be encouraged to report any incidents or near misses’ encountered. Then, necessary steps can be taken early to avoid potential injury or even death.