Different work environments each pose different risks to workers. However, some industries will inevitably pose greater risks than others. Statistically, the most dangerous industries to work in in the UK are construction, agriculture and waste and recycling. The manufacturing, mining and logistics industries also pose above average risks to workers, with higher rates of fatality than other industries.
Statistically the safest industries to work in are, unsurprisingly, the more office-based sectors such as business services, finance and administration. Workers in these industries tend to be exposed to a lower level of risk, working in controlled environments for example and not usually coming into contact with dangerous machinery.
Recent figures shared by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that rates of fatal accidents per every 100,000 workers are significantly higher in some industries than others. This is not entirely surprising as working environments vary dramatically and some jobs inevitably pose significantly higher risks than others.
But this doesn't mean that jobs in these industries should be avoided, just that additional steps need to be taken to mitigate the risks and protect workers' safety. This is where risk assessments come in.
All employers in all industries have a legal duty to fully assess any risks that are posed to the health and safety of workers. A risk assessment will require the employer (or a nominated individual) to routinely assess the work environment and working practices to determine where there could be compromises to workers' health and safety. They will then need to take steps to address these findings.
Risk assessments need to be comprehensive and tailored to the specific work environment, as no two workplaces will ever be identical. When assessing risks, it will be necessary to take a detailed look around the whole environment, watch how people are working and speak to employees to see where they think improvements could be made.
It is not enough for employers to simply carry out risk assessments, they will also need to demonstrate that reasonable measures have been taken to address and mitigate these risks. This may be in the form of introducing procedures or working practices, carrying out additional training or putting up barriers or signage, for example.
There are strict health and safety regulations in place to protect workers across all industries. These are called the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992. These regulations set out ways in which workers' health and safety should be protected and they must be adhered to by all workplaces, with a few exceptions.
The workplaces that do not fall under these Regulations are construction sites, ships and mines. This is because these industries have their own specific regulations due to the unique risks that are posed to workers in each of them.
Under the Workplace Regulations, employers are required to put in place reasonable steps to protect employees' health and safety. The Regulations provide employers with guidance on ways in which they can do this so that they meet their legal obligations.
In addition, the HSE has also put together comprehensive guidance specific to each industry, to equip employers with all of the information they need to ensure a safe working environment.
Reporting Accidents at Work
All places of work in England and Wales with more than 10 employees must legally have an accident book, regardless of the industry or sector. All accidents should be recorded in this book, and more serious accidents will need to be reported to the HSE under RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations).
It's important to make sure that all accidents are recorded in the accident book, even if these may seem minor at the time. Recording accidents can flag up trends to employers highlighting that a particular hazard needs to be addressed before a more serious accident occurs, for example, or it could be that what seems like a minor injury at the time then develops into a more serious health condition.
Having the details of any accidents recorded in the accident book is likely to provide valuable evidence to support any Personal Injury Claim that is made. For example, say you suffer a serious head injury because you slip over on oil that was leaking from faulty machinery. It may be that this machinery has been faulty and leaking for some time but has not been addressed.
There may have been countless incidents before your accident, where other workers have slipped or lost their footing, but they were not seriously injured. If these incidents have all been recorded in the accident book then this will provide a really tangible timeline of events, making it clear that those responsible were aware of the hazard but failed to take action.
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