Top 5 work hazards that lead to injuries or illness

Posted Jun 30, 2018.
Top 5 work hazards that lead to injuries or illness

Despite huge improvements over the past 30 years in workplace health and safety, many work environments contain a variety of hazards that lead to workers and staff being injured, sometimes seriously. Being aware of your work environment and understanding the dangers that may me present is the best start point to staying safe at work. Based on the many injury compensation claims we have won, the following list outlines the top 5 hazards to look out for.

1 - Electrical

There are a fair number of electrical accidents at work each year in the UK, many causing permanent injury and some of which are fatal. Whilst wires with a voltage over 50 AC (120 volts DC) are the most hazardous, it is vital to be aware that any type of live wire can hurt you, either by direct contact or indirectly via another material or object. These are caused by faulty equipment that can be checked as a preventative measure.As well as ensuring that electrical equipment is correctly maintained, it’s also important to ensure that damaged cabling is replaced and use the correct tools and clothing for the job. Also be aware that faulty electrics is a big cause of fires too. 

2 – General Physical Hazards

General physical hazards can take many forms in the workplace, such as dangerous moving parts, unguarded machinery, vibrations and working at heights and on ladders. Such hazards need a ‘common sense’ approach and suffering harm can be avoided if you are doing things in the right way. Employers are legally responsible for their employees safety, and as well as ensuring tht the work environment, tools, equipment and clothing are appropriate, this also includes providing training and education to staff on how to properly operate, work on and maintain equipment.

3 - Chemical
Exposure to a wide range of different chemical preparations (be it a solid, liquid, or gas), particularily in a confined space, can be potentially hazardous, causing injuries such as skin irritations, burns, eye injuries, and blindness if you’re not careful. Vapours and fumes from manufacturing processes, cleaning products and solvents being used in the workplace, carbon monoxide from exhaust and heating systems and flammable materials are all things that can be damaging to your health. Solvents can also be highly flammable, and spray paint cans are capable of exploding. Hazardous substances should always be clearly labelled, so ensure that you read and understand these warning labels before working with a particular substance. Ideally, use of hazardous chemicals should be minimised in the workplace, but if they are necessary, ensure that there is adequate ventilation, use the correct protective clothing and wash your hands thoroughly after use. 

4 - Noise

An area of workplace safety which can easily be overlooked, loud noises in the workplace can cause permanent damage to your hearing. Loss of hearing can be caused immediately by loud noises like an explosion or by use of cartridge operated tools, but it more commonly occurs over time due to prolonged exposure to consistent, high level noise. It is easy to simply ‘get used’ to noises in the workplace without appreciating the long-term and often permanent damage that is being caused.  A good test is that if people have to raise their voices to be heard from a metre away, then that’s a good basic indicator that noise levels may be too high. Employers must provide instruction to workers on how to minimise the risks, including provision of and instruction in the use of appropriate hearing protection. In factories, enclosing noisy machinery can make a big difference in controlling noise, especially if such machinery is kept in a separate area from the workforce. 

5 - Asbestos

Despite being banned in many work and home environments for over 20 years, Asbestos related illness and injury is still a significant risk area for many workers. Asbestos fibres can enter the lungs and stay there for many years, and there is no way to remove them once they’ve reached your lungs. Asbestos exposure, particularly when the asbestos is not in a solid form, can lead to you developing breathing difficulties and mesothelioma, a type of cancer. There is currently no cure for asbestos related illnesses. 
Workers most at risk are those who are working on buildings where asbestos is present, typically in the form of insulation, paint or in fire-resistant areas. It is important to minimise the disturbance of asbestos in buildings as drilling, cutting and demolishing will all increase the risk of asbestos fibres being released. Proper protective clothing is an absolute must, and if possible, it is always recommended that specialists in asbestos are bought in to do the job. 


If you have had an accident at work that wasn't your fault, call Bakers Solicitors now, on FREEPHONE 0800 731 7284 for free impartial advice as to whether you have a claim.