Workplace injuries are any personal injury, disease or death resulting from an occupational accident related to the scope of work of the employee. Below is useful tools and information around the prevention of injury in the workplace.
In 2022, there were nearly 15.6 million people estimated as employed in South Africa. Compared to the previous year, this was an increase from around 15.1 million individuals. This is the amount of people exposed to work injury on a daily basis with the Construction industry being the leader in workplace injuries. 30% of injuries are caused by slip trip and falls which are a large liability to a company. Followed by Strains, one of the most common workplace injuries is employees straining their back or neck, Repetitive Use Injuries, Cuts, Collisions and Crashes just to name a few. The Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1993, requires the employer to bring about and maintain, as far as reasonably practicable, a work environment that is safe and without risk to the health of the workers.
Hierarchy of Controls
What is the Hierarchy of Controls?
The hierarchy of controls is a method of identifying and ranking safeguards to protect workers from hazards which cause injuries. They are arranged from the most to least effective and include elimination, substitution, engineering controls, administrative controls and personal protective equipment. This methodology is most used in the workplace to safeguard the workforce in their daily operations.
Physically remove the hazard that has a potential to cause an injury, separating pedestrian entrance from vehicle entrance which eliminate interaction between pedestrian and vehicles.
Replace the hazard, replacing a machinery that is noisy with a quitter one to minimize noise pollution.
Using guards against moving part of machinery
Work process training, job rotation, ensuring adequate rest breaks, limiting access to hazardous areas or machinery.
Personal Protective Equipment, heat resistant gloves to handle hot pans in baking.
How to prevent injuries in the workplace:
- Carry out regular risk assessments which assist in identifying hazards and allocating mitigating measures
- Conduct physical/medical assessments for demanding roles
- Provide safety and wellness training regularly
- Hire qualified workers
- Hire enough workers
- Keep workspaces clean and walkways clear
- Post clear proper signage
- Conduct ergonomic survey which check noise level, illumination, ventilation and ergonomics of the workplace
- Have Regular Safety Talks
- Provide Appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Regularly
- Involve Employees in the Development and Implementation of Safety Protocol
- Behavioral Based Safety training
Employees should always carry out and obey lawful orders and obey the health and safety rules and procedures laid down by the employer. Please note that safety rules and procedures of an employer may be more specific towards the employer’s own work environment and conditions. This stipulate that for the workplace to deemed safe both parties, employer and employee must play a critical role to safe guard each other. Personal protective equipment will not be able to protect an employee if it is not worn properly or not at all. Administrative control will not work if training is not attended by the required employees. Engineering control will not be adequate if the employee removes or bypass them.
The relationship between an employer and employee must work hand in hand to eliminate workplace injuries and raise awareness of potential hazards outside the workplace which may impact both employee and employer. Raising awareness on commuting safety which incorporates robberies, protest action, bad weather and political unrest which greatly impact operation and employee safety.
The key component begins with an individual safety awareness and compliance and being able to keep themselves safe and people around them.
Being safe starts with you.
– Thulani Made, Safety Officer.