Did you know that if a workplace injury occurs, research has shown that it’s the employee who bears the brunt of the cost? As an employee in Queensland, you are insured by WorkCover and can make a worker’s compensation claim if you suffer a workplace accident or illness. However, only a percentage of your usual income is covered, not your full income.

While your employer has a legal obligation to provide you with a safe and healthy working environment, workplace injuries can still occur. In a statistical report produced by Safe Work Australia, it was found that there were a total of 104,770 personal injury claims for work-related incidents in 2017. Of these personal injury claims, 25% of them were brought by Labourers, 18% by Technicians and Trades Workers and 16% by Community and Personal Service Workers.

What can you do as an employee to reduce your risk of personal injury at work? A good place to start is to be aware of the hazards associated with your line of work and to understand your rights when it comes to Workplace Health and Safety.

Below we look at the leading causes of workplace personal injuries and provide tips and suggestions on how you can avoid them.

1. Body stressing / repetitive strain (39.3%)

Repetitive strain injury (RSI) is the most common type of workplace injury sustained by employees. RSI is typically associated with hands and wrists, but repetitive strain can also result in severe neck and back injury. The following are tasks that are a common cause of muscular or joint strains:

  • Sitting down at a desk for hours (lower back and neck strains, carpal tunnel syndrome)
  • Lifting, pulling or pushing objects repetitively (joint injuries)
  • Working in ergonomically unfriendly workspaces (poor posture and lower back pain)

You can prevent muscular and joint stress by: having adequate training and supervision for carrying out tasks (such as training for proper lifting techniques), having a qualified Workplace Health and Safety inspector regularly check workstations for risk of muscular stress, practising good posture and taking regular breaks.

2. Falls, trips and slips (23%)

Workplace accidents which involve falls, trips and slips can cause serious fracture injuries. These accidents are commonly caused by factors in the work environment such as:

  • wet floors
  • loose objects, cables and furniture
  • poor lighting / no lighting

In order to prevent such workplace accidents, your employer should ensure that the workplace environment is secure and safe (by removing small loose objects or repairing damaged furniture). Also ensuring you wear adequate footwear and protective gear helps to avoid incidents.

3. Toppling incidents / being hit by moving objects (15.4%)

Safe Work Australia’s report found that falling objects accounted for 29% of all workplace fatalities, making it the second most common cause of workplace fatalities, after vehicle accidents, in 2016.

If you operate with heavy objects or work in an environment that has shelves, you may be susceptible to abrasions or concussions and the like. To ensure prevention of such injuries, it’s crucial that you follow the Workplace Health and Safety procedures implemented by your employer and ensure you wear correct safety gear.

4. Mental stress (5.8%)

Safe Work Australia explains that mental stress can be caused by a number of factors in the workplace such as:

  • Work-related bullying and harassment
  • Mentally, physically or emotionally demanding work
  • Traumatic events that might happen at work
  • Excessive work pressure
  • Exposure to occupational violence

These factors can all contribute to high levels of stress, which if prolonged, can lead to work-related psychological or physical injury. Under Australian legislation, your employer has a duty to protect you from psychological stress. To prevent workplace mental stress, your employer should encourage regular breaks and create work processes that maintain good office morale for you and your work colleagues.

5) Vehicle incidents (2.4%)

Workplace accidents resulting from vehicle incidents are frequent causes of personal injury. This includes accidents such as:

  • Forklift/ motor-vehicle operation accidents
  • Road accidents of employees commuting to work
  • Cargo/ delivery truck accidents

These accidents can have serious implications. It’s therefore important to ensure that you wear seat-belts when driving and to follow all other safety precautions implemented by your employer to protect your safety and health in the workplace.

What to do if you’re injured at work?

If you suffer a workplace injury or illness, you may be eligible to make a worker’s compensation claim. This area of compensation law can be complex and daunting but you can get help from an expert workplace accident lawyer who can guide you through the process.

Workplace accident?

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