October is National Safe Work Month in Australia.
This is a period where managers and staff across the country think about steps they can take to make their workplace a safer and healthier environment - this could be anything from a group safety talk in the morning through to investing in products that will actively prevent accidents.
Here we'll take a look at some of the most common workplace injuries, and what you can do to prevent them.
Trends in Australian work-related fatalities
A fatality in the workplace is the stuff of nightmares - the impact it has on the team, the family of the worker and the community at large is devastating.
Shockingly, there were a total of 190 work-related fatalities in Australia in 2017, according to data from Safe Work Australia. The most common occupation for deaths at work were machinery operators and drivers, with 7.1 fatalities per 100,00 workers, and the second was labourers with 4.6 fatalities per 100,000 workers.
There were 190 work-related fatalities in Australia in 2017, according to Safe Work Australia
While this data is clearly saddening, the key is to take measures to prevent future deaths at work, so it's worth exploring exactly how these accidents occur.
The same workplace health and safety statistics released by Safe Work Australia showed that among the top four most common mechanisms for workplace fatalities were: falls from height (15 per cent of the total injuries) and being struck by a falling object (8 per cent of the total injuries). These are of obvious concern for staff working on industrial sites.
Reducing common fatality risks for industrial workers
AS 1657 is the industry compliance standard relevant to working at height. It gives guidance for selecting, designing and reviewing height related safety equipment such as walkways, stairways, ladders and platforms.
The Monowills link ticks all of the boxes of AS 1657, and can contribute to reducing the risks associated with working on rooftops for both those on it and underneath it. Here's how:
- Handrails and grab bars: The handrails and grab bars that come with this modular walkway give workers an important point of contact when working in potentially risky situations.
- Reliable strength: All components of this feature have a tensile strength exceeding 350 MPa, and so are capable of bearing heavy loads.
- Safety for workers below: The walkway's design is consistent with the 15 mm ball test. This is part of AS 1657 which states that no objects bigger than 15 mm should be able to pass through a walkway - preventing the risks of objects falling from height mentioned above.
What are the most common workplace injuries?
The good news when it comes to claims for serious workplace injuries in Australia is that the overall number is continuing to drop. In fact, between 2006/7 and 2015/16 the frequency of these incidents fell by 28 per cent, according to Safe Work Australia.
Labourers were the occupation group most likely to file a serious injury claim in 2016/17.
Their data showed that, there were still 106,620 serious claims between 2016 and 2017, with labourers making up the occupation most likely to make one. When you drill down even further, construction workers came second only to people working in agriculture, fishing and forestry, with 8.1 serious claims per million hours worked.
Reducing common injury risks to industrial workers
Again, what's crucial here is learning from past oversights to make industrial sites safer in the years to come.
The most common cause of injury in 2016-17 was body stressing. Body stressing relates to soft tissue injuries to muscles, ligaments and tendons. This includes strains, sprains and tendonitis associated with manual and repetitive tasks.
Of course, industrial work involves physicality, but there are a number of steps you can take to help your staff reduce their likelihood of suffering from these injuries:
- Train staff in correct lifting techniques - No matter how experienced they claim to be, ensure that all new staff are trained in lifting properly.
- Provide the best protective gear - Establish what personal protective equipment (PPE) is applicable to your work, and ensure staff wear it at all times.
- Ensure staff are aware of hazards: If there are areas of your site that present particular dangers, make sure your staff are fully briefed and understand how to minimise risk.
The next most common mechanism of serious injury listed by Safe Work Australia came under the bracket of slips, trips and falls, making up 24 per cent of the total. In addition to site risk briefings, a simple way to reduce this risk is investing in walkways and ramps to allow staff to safely access different areas.
Webforge walkways come with a choice of surface profiles and anti-slip nosings, which increase traction and give your workers security under foot.
The well-being and protection of workers should be any manager's chief priority. At Webforge we have over 70 years of specialist manufacturing experience, supplying a range of safety products to both national and international projects. For more information on workplace risk reduction, or how we can tailor our products to suit your needs, get in touch with our team today.