Posted December 4, 2017 04:11 pm

What You Need to Know About Workplace Accidents

The rampancy of workplace accident is disturbing. Not only is it causing loss of lives, injuries; beyond the loss of highfliers, productivity and profitability, it creates high turnover rate which alters team structure and results in extra costs resulting from recruiting and training new staff. It occurs virtually in every field of endeavour but with a higher rate in construction and logging industries. To salvage the situation, employee/employer understanding of the situation and the terms of compensation are very imperative.

Given the unpredictable nature of workplace accidents, employees' orientations play vital roles in sensitizing the staff and equipping them with the best skills towards minimising its frequency. A workplace accident could abruptly end the life/job of an employee and could lead to special adjustments if the employee eventually comes back.

What Does Workplace Accident Entail?

A workplace accident is a sudden occurrence as a result of exposure to certain risks at work. According to Findlaw, a workplace accident is an event that results in injury or ill health. This implies anything that occurs at work which leads to injury or illness. It is important to note that it could lead to death and other losses. Work-related accidents occur on the job as a direct result of the tasks allocated to specific jobs.

It leads to injuries which could be fatal or non-fatal. Occupational accident has remained a global concern as the impact on both the employee and employer is huge. In some cases, it could have a permanent effect on the quality of life of the worker. On the other hand, there could be a negative perception of the employers' safety climate.

The US Bureau of Labour statistics believed that approximately 2.9 million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses are reported by private employers in 2016. Also, stated that a total of 70,116 non-fatal workplace injuries were reported by employees in 2016 in US. A workplace accident could lead to low productivity; it may negatively affect the company's morale and in some cases increase workers' compensation claims. It could result also in loss of job, permanent disability, etc.

Causes of Workplace Accidents

Workplace accidents occur as a result of fatigue, stress, overexertion, poor housekeeping, distractions, shortcuts, slip, lifting heavy objects, unintended collision with co-workers, a strike by an object, fall from a height, contact with a machine, strike against a fixed object, etc. Workplace violence like physical assault, pranks, anger-related incidents, property damage, etc, could also lead to an accident.

Other causes of workplace accidents are a mental distraction, neglecting safety measures, overconfidence, lack of preparation and lack or inadequate information about a particular task to be carried out.

The European Statistics on Accidents at Work (ESAW) classified workplace accident into fatal and non-fatal accidents. Fatal accidents are those which lead to the death of the worker within one year while non-fatal accidents are those which prevented the worker from going to her workplace for four calendar days.  

A workplace injury is considered fatal or critical when it places the life of the victim in jeopardy when the victim is unconscious or has lost so much blood or causes loss of sight of one or both eyes. Examples include head injuries, severe burns, amputations, etc. Also, minor injuries range from electric shocks, fractures, sprains, muscle strains, cuts, inhalation of toxic fumes, etc.

Proper Management of Workplace Accidents

Efficient management and prevention of workplace accident demand the keen involvement of both the employer and the employees. An organisation can eliminate workplace accidents with the aid of risk assessment measures which helps to identify occupational risks that can lead to workplace accidents and periodically train employees on safety measures. The employee, on the other hand, can support team vigilance and by wearing protective clothing and acceding to every safety instruction that has the potential to totally eliminate accidents at workplace.   

According to personal injury attorney Sherwin Arzani, the employer has the obligation to investigate and report workplace incidents that result in injury. This is geared towards identifying, controlling or eliminating workplace hazards and preventing potential accidents.

Every employee who becomes a victim of workplace accident should promptly report to his employer within the shortest possible time and also visit the nearest clinic for medical attention. This action will impinge on the quality of time and productivity. It should be properly documented while the employer should follow-up with the necessary documentation and treatments.

Implications of Violating Employee's Fundamental Rights

Every employee has a right to security and working in a safe, secure and conducive workplace; anything short of this is a violation of his fundamental human right. It will result in compensation for workplace-associated injury in the event of accidents. Every employee should request from the employer a compensation form which will help in recovering and returning to work in the event of accidents at work.

Employee compensation policy basically covers hospital and medical expenses that are necessary to diagnose and treat the victim's injury. It also provides disability payment of about two third of the victim's salary and may pay for rehabilitation and retraining. However, employee compensation comes with exceptional clauses, which nullifies the compensation once the accident results from external influences such as alcohol, illegal drugs, etc.  

It is essential therefore that all stakeholders - employee, employer and other key personalities who have businesses with an organisation must see it as a point of duty to be on guard against injuries at work.