What are the Main Causes of Accidents in the Workplace?

People working in different types of job obviously face a range of situations where they are at risk of accident or injury. These risks and hazards at work can result in injuries. But what are the main causes of accidents in the workplace? Our guide looks at types of accident commonly suffered at work, and examines how the risk can be reduced for the workforce.

worker putting on safety boots

Causes of Accidents in the Workplace Statistics

An office worker is much less at risk from burns than a chef. However, there are a range of common accidents and injuries which happen in all types of job. Trips, slips and falls top the league.

In 2020 / 21, these accounted for 33% of workplace injuries. That is over 162,000 reportable workplace injuries due to trips, slips & falls at work. The next most common accident at work was related to manual lifting and handling. This type of incident was responsible for 18% of accidents reported to the HSE. That is over 88,500 incidents.

See Also: If I get injured at work do I get paid?

Types of Accidents in the Workplace

The basic causes of accidents in the workplace can be attributed to just 5 main risks. By paying attention to these hazards and conducting a proper risk assessment around them, you can reduce accidents at work. This is part of the employers duty of care, and is a legal obligation for all businesses.

Overall, the five most common types of workplace accident and injury in 2020 / 21 were:-

  • Trips, slips and falls.
  • Manual lifting & handing.
  • Struck by moving object.
  • Trapped by something collapsing or overturning.
  • Falls from a height.

Some of the most common injuries were:-

  • Sprains and strains.
  • Back injury.
  • Head injury.
  • Neck injury.

Other less common injuries or illnesses in the workplace include occupational asthma, deafness, vibration white finger and dermatitis.

Vibration white finger can cause the fingers to tingle, become numb or make it difficult to grip. The damage is usually irreversible and caused by excessive hand / arm vibration.

Many of the identifiable risks of accident and injury can be reduced or eliminated through delivery of training at work. Health and safety training is a vital part of mitigating the risk of accident at work.

Accidents by Business Sector

Some business sectors are have a greater risk of accidents in the workplace. The cause can be down to the environment, equipment being used, and workspace conditions.

The top 5 business sectors for non fatal accidents in 2020 / 21 were:-

  • Agriculture, forestry, and fishing. 3970 accidents per 100,000 workers.
  • Construction. 2870 accidents per 100,000 workers.
  • Accommodation & food services. 2460 accidents per 100,000 workers.
  • Wholesale / retail trade. 2100 accidents per 100,000 workers.
  • Manufacturing. 2020 accidents per 100,000 workers.

Causes of Fatal Accidents at Work

A total of 142 people were killed at work in 2020 / 21. This is a very small percentage of the workforce and in thelong term death rates have fallen. However, there is never an acceptable number of deaths at work. By identifying and reducing risks in the workplace, worker safety can be improved.

Figures collected from 2020 – 2021 show that the most common cause of fatal accidents at workwas falling from a height.

The most commonly reported causes of fatal accident at work for 2020 / 21 were:-

  • Falls from a height – 35
  • Struck by moving vehicle – 25
  • Struck by moving object – 17
  • Trapped by something collapsing or overturning – 14
  • Contact with moving machinery – 14

The type of vehicles involved in accidents over this period included cars, trucks and vans – but the highest level of injuries were related to fork lift truck accidents.

Around 1,300 employees are hospitalised after accidents with forklift trucks every year. Research suggests that a high percentage of these are due to lack of training for fork lift truck drivers or poor maintenance of the truck. A responsible employer should thoroughly assess risks and workplace training to improve forklift safety in order to reduce the risks.

See Also: Can I be sacked for having an accident at work?

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