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Safety at work: How to maintain a safe workplace and avoid accidents

Jul 28, 2020.

We hardly need to convince you that it’s a good idea to reduce the risk of workplace accidents by maintaining good safety at work strategies. But a look at the numbers is a good way of understanding just how good an idea it is.

With regard to the number of cases, it becomes clear that occupational accidents are a far-reaching problem: in 2018 alone, almost 275,000 occupational accidents were reported in Switzerland. This is an increase of 1.8% compared to the previous year. To prevent this, it is most important to invest in looking after your employees. No workplace injury is good but some are more serious than others—every year in Switzerland around 1,000 employees are injured badly enough at work to experience a permanent incapcity to earn a living.



Get kitted out

Every workplace needs the right safety equipment. If what you do is pretty specialised, you might need some equally specialised safety equipment. Otherwise, common safety equipment in workplaces where there’s a risk of impacts, lacerations, temperature extremes, loud noises or bright light could include helmets, goggles, ear protectors, gloves, safety boots and high-vis clothing. In any case, a risk assessment will help you identify everything you might need.


That also goes for the relative safety of office environments. In Switzerland, 15,000 accidents occur in office surroundings each year. The most common type of accident by far is slipping, sliding or falling. One third of accidents at work are tripping and falling accidents. Staircases, unmarked raised surfaces, loose cables, and partially blocked walkways often lead to tripping accidents. Wet floors, poor lighting or inappropriate shoes also often play a role in those falls.



Collisions, cuts and bumping into objects

The second most common type of accident is being hit by something. That includes collisions with people, objects or transportation aids.


Almost as common (17%) in the office are cuts, scratches and grazes. Care should be taken when using tools such as cutters, cutting machines and scissors as well as when clearing up broken glass.


The fourth most frequent form of accident is hitting, bumping into or grasping an object (13%). For example if a drawer is not immediately closed after it has been opened or if an unmarked glass door is overlooked, a moment of inattention can be quite painful.


Serious accidents as a result of objects such as shelving or filing cabinets tipping over make up 10% of all occupational accidents in offices.


Even sitting at a desk is more hazardous than you’d expect—pain in the musculoskeletal system is widespread among the working population. Among the most frequent physical complaints experienced is back pain.



Team up with your employees to maintain safety at work

When it comes to safety at work, your employees are invaluable partners.


For a start, they have a lot of eyeballs between them—take advantage by making it easy to report a hazard so it can be quickly addressed. You might also want to appoint a number of safety champions with the authority to ensure that any safety concerns within their assigned area are addressed.


You’ll also want to give your employees the safety training they need, especially when it comes to lifting. They’re all bound to do it at some point, so ensuring that they know how to correctly pick up and move heavy loads, both manually and with the help of equipment, could really pay off.


All of that said, hazards can be hard to spot, and even the most careful employer could miss a potentially significant danger. So, from time to time, it’s worth bringing in a health and safety consultant to carry out an audit to highlight and help you address, safety issues that might otherwise have been missed. The peace of mind alone is worth the effort!

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