Accidents can happen in any workplace: even the seemingly safe office can pose dangers if safety is not considered. Overloading electrical outlets, leaving spillages on slippery floors and incorrect use of equipment can all easily lead to accidents which in the worse of cases can result in prolonged time off work and loss of income. Potential dangers in your office may seem minor when compared with some of Britain’s most dangerous jobs!
Service professions like firefighters, police and coastguards are all extremely physical, involve risky situations and consequently can pose great danger to the workers. Employees of these services put their own lives on the line for the sake of others, often on a daily basis.
Figures from the Police Roll of Honour Trust reported 143 deaths in the line of duty between 2000 and 2010. Amongst these three positions, that of the coastguard may be the most risky, however serious incidents at sea are relatively rare.
Another maritime job, which some may say riskier, is that of fishermen, who take to the seas daily, often despite adverse weather conditions. Being a fisherman holds a staggering one in 20 chance of being killed on the job!
It is not only the natural elements of fire and ocean which hold risks, as the job of a construction worker may be equally, if not more dangerous. Figures vary from year to year and poll to poll, though statistics from January of this year released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) point towards construction being the most dangerous job in the UK.
The HSE sites many of the construction job ‘accidents’ to arise from diseases rather than injuries picked up at work. These include exposure to radiation, asbestos and carcinogenic materials. During 2011 50 construction workers lost their lives on the job, which sounds like a substantial figure. However, this must be considered relatively: the large number of construction workers in the UK means the figure stands at 2.4 deaths per 100,000 workers.
In comparison, the number of fatalities per 100,000 farm worker is higher, with 8 reported in the same year. Between 2010 and 2011, there were 1,061 farming injuries; though because of the nature of the job it is believed many more go unreported. So what causes the high level of injuries and fatalities in farming? Dangers arise predominantly from the use of large agricultural machinery. Being run over by farm vehicles, for example, accounted for 26% of fatalities, according to a 2010/11 report. Working outside and with livestock also poses potential dangers, with the same report stating 16% of fatalities resulting from falling objects, such as bales and trees, and 10% of deaths caused by livestock.
Whatever your profession, understanding and following health and safety guidelines is the key to staying safe at work – whether alongside colleagues in an office, or cattle in a farmyard! In many cases victims of an accident at work will have received compensation in such incidents, by pursuing injury at work claims, with the help of professional, specialist solicitors, but it’s still nonetheless important to consider what you are covered for whilst at work in the UK.
This article was contributed by Luke Bishop. Luke is a ex-construction worker that now helps advise workers on how they can go about legal action due to workplace injuries.
Image: London firefighters by David Holt London via Flickr