What Are the Causes of Workplace Accidents?

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It's important to identify the health and safety hazards of your workplace.
It's important to identify the health and safety hazards of your workplace. (Image: Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Whether you work on a busy construction site or in a quiet office, accidents can happen. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2009 there were 3,277,700 reported nonfatal workplace injuries (private sector) in the U.S., and 3,890 work-related deaths. Workplace safety training and regular internal safety inspections can help reduce the risk of accidents that lead to injury at work.

Pathway Obstructions

Objects on the ground that obstruct common pathways can lead to trip and fall accidents. Some of the most common pathway obstructions in the workplace include rumpled or curled floor mats, cords and wires, boxes and uneven steps.

Slippery Surfaces

Recently mopped floors and spilled drinks can easily set up a scenario for a slip and fall accident in the workplace. If your workplace is in a cold climate, the ice and snow that accumulates on outdoor walkways and steps can also result in slip and falls if it’s not properly salted or sanded for traction. Doorways without mats can also pose a slipping hazard, as mats or rugs absorb the snow and rain that gets tracked in by people entering the building.

Lack of Training

Untrained personnel who operate heavy machinery such as forklifts or work with electrical wiring are some causes of workplace accidents. Sometimes these accidents are caused by individuals with inadequate training, or individuals with no training at all who are temporarily filling in for other personnel.

Heavy Lifting

Lifting heavy objects in the workplace can cause temporary back strain or permanently damage the back. Attempting to lift too much weight at once or bending more with the back than the knees can cause back strain.

Ladders

Ladders can easily lead to accidental injury when used improperly. Failing to open the ladder fully and ensure the legs are laid securely flat against the ground are some of the most common mistakes that lead to ladder accidents.

Improper Storage

Objects stacked in a top-heavy or otherwise unsteady manner can topple onto employees and injure employees. Unstable shelving and objects stuffed into closets and cupboards beyond capacity can also cause accidents when those objects get shifted.

Fatigue

Fatigue caused by lack of sleep or certain medications can lead to accidents on the job and in transit. Fatigued employees are more prone to making errors in judgment on the job, which can lead to accidents if they’re operating heavy machinery or supervising others who are.

Toxic Leaks

Gas leaks, chemical leaks, and asbestos or carbon monoxide in the environment can lead to illness and fatality. Use of strong chemicals for cleaning the workplace can also lead to respiratory problems for personnel, particularly those with environmental sensitivities.

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