Preventing Industrial Injuries

Recent statistics from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that industrial injuries consistently account for the highest number of workplace injuries of any occupation.Industrial injuries are workplace injuries that take place within an ‘industrial’ environment including factories and manufacturing plants where there’s extensive use of heavy machinery.In 2009/10, there were 5,468 non-fatal major injuries to ‘Process, Plant and Machine Operatives’ reported. This figure accounts for around 21% of all non-fatal major injuries reported. Preventing injuries wherever possible is clearly in everyone’s interests; among other implications for a business, injuries often lead to successful industrial injury claims if it can be proved that the employer has not done everything they can to prevent injuries taking place.This article outlines three effective ways in which injuries can be prevented, as well as what employees can do if they’ve been injured as a result of employer negligence.1. Make preventing industrial injuries part of everyone’s jobComprehensive training forms an important part of preventing industrial injuries. A thorough induction is a good place to start, ensuring anyone who’s new to the workplace is made aware of any hazards they may come across, or health and safety procedures in place. Training should be mandatory and refreshed frequently.The HSE document ‘Your health, your safety: A guide for workers’ states that everyone has certain responsibilities when it comes to preventing accidents at work. Employees’ responsibilities include co-operating with others on matters of health and safety and not interfering with any safety equipment provided.2. Take safety equipment seriouslyThis is perhaps the most important factor in avoiding unnecessary injuries. Even the most finance focussed employer should appreciate that the short-term expense of buying equipment is outweighed by the financial implications of an employee being injured as a result of not having the appropriate safety equipment available to them. The equipment needed will depend on the type of work being carried out, for example, welders should always wear gloves and goggles or a facemask to protect from sparks, whereas scaffolders are required by law to wear a safety harness when working more than four metres above the ground without a safe platform with edge protection.3. Take a proactive approach to maintenanceAgain, this is an inexpensive but hugely effective way of reducing the number of injuries sustained. Taking a proactive approach means routinely checking equipment, as well as the buildings themselves for faults or signs of wear and tear. Taking measures such as changing non-functioning light bulbs, or ensuring walkways are kept free from obstacles, are essential in keeping the workplace safe. Acting as soon as a problem is identified is crucial to this approach.Industrial injury claimsWhere an employer ignores their responsibilities towards their employees, and an employee is injured as a result of procedures such as the above not being in place, injured employees may be able to make industrial injury claims against the employer.Industrial injury claims allow the employee to pursue compensation for their industrial injuries, which can help cover the costs of any medical treatment needed, or provide a source of income if they have to take time off work to recover. Industrial injury claims can usually be made on a no win no fee basis, meaning there is no financial risk involved in making a claim. What’s more, it’s illegal for an employer to fire someone for making an industrial claim – this would amount to unfair dismissal.