Working in the manufacturing industry is a high-risk type of employment. Often, you are working with heavy machinery, machine parts and harmful chemicals and substances. As well as working with such equipment, the labour you complete can be physically demanding and require a high level of attention.
Therefore, it is not surprising that manufacturing injuries account for 20% of the UK’s workplace accidents, even though only 10% of the workforce are employed in manufacturing. According to the Health and Safety Executive, 20 fatalities in the manufacturing industry were recorded in 2020/2021. Due to such high injury statistics, it is imperative that both employers and employees are aware of the potential for accidents in the manufacturing industry.
One of the most common manufacturing work environments is a factory, where employees produce manufactured goods for sale. By being aware of the potential risks of working in a factory, and the causes of accidents, employers and employees are protecting their own health and wellbeing, whilst also ensuring the constant flow of work required to keep up with efficient production.
In this blog post, our Personal Injury team at Watermans have taken a look at the most common causes of factory accidents, so that you are aware of the potential risks involved in working in the manufacturing industry, and how best to avoid injury.
One of the main ways that workplace injuries in factories are caused is by slipping, tripping, and falling. The potential for a slip, trip, or fall to occur is increased if there are liquids spilt on the floor and not properly taken care of.
Things like puddles of water and grease or oil patches can cause an employee to take a nasty tumble and has the potential to cause serious injury. By correctly cleaning any spilt substances and putting out safety signage to warn others in the area, slips on split liquids can be avoided.
Cluttered floor space
Another thing that can cause slips, trips, and falls in the factory is when walkways are not cleared of boxes, tools, and equipment. By having a clear walkway without any obstacles, employees can move around the factory much more safely.
The same can be said for vehicles moving around the building, like forklifts. If a forklift is carrying a load and encounters a carelessly placed box or manufacturing tool, it has the potential to tip over, injuring both the forklift operator and any employees in the vicinity. Read more about how to prevent forklift accidents in the workplace here.
By keeping all floor space clear, with correct storage for tools and equipment, it is less likely that an accident could happen.
Working in a factory that is poorly lit can cause employees to be more susceptible to hurting themselves or their colleagues. When operating the tools required to turn raw materials into products, it is important that the machine operator can see exactly what they are doing. Poor lighting can hinder visibility and cause employees to make mistakes, potentially harming themselves or their colleagues.
Working in the manufacturing industry means that lots of different tools and equipment will be needed to produce components and finished products. Through constant use, the equipment used by employees can suffer from general wear and tear, and so it is important that all apparatus used by employees is checked regularly to ensure it is safe and fit for use.
It is not only hand tools or machines that need to be continuously reviewed for safety purposes; falling from a height is one of the most common accidents in the manufacturing industry, and so anything used to reach a height, like ladders or industrial safety steps, must be checked regularly for any damage.
Factory accidents can occur because of objects falling onto a person from a height. Items that are stored in high places have the potential to fall off the shelves if they are not stored correctly and can cause serious injuries if they were to land on an employee working below.
Similarly, if employees are working on a raised level and handling objects or equipment, they may drop these and cause those below to be hit on the head. The use of correct headgear, like safety helmets, can reduce the potential for injury here, and training in how to correctly handle and store equipment and manufactured products can also help to reduce the risk of an accident.
Working in factories where industrial machines and power tools are used to make products can mean that employees are subject to loud and excessive noise throughout their working day. Over time, illnesses like tinnitus can occur, where a ringing or buzzing in the ear causes severe discomfort for an individual and can lead to noise-induced hearing loss.
By making employees aware of the potential problems associated with tinnitus and providing them with correct personal protective equipment like noise-excluding ear defenders, employers can greatly improve the working lives of their staff.
Improper lifting techniques
By not correctly lifting boxes and other equipment, factory employees may face severe muscle and lower back pain. Employers should train their staff in correct manual handling procedures, so that everyone is aware of the safest way to lift and move things around the factory. Manual handling injuries are not only caused by lifting, but can also be caused by pushing, pulling, and carrying items in an unsafe manner.
Where possible, employers should try to use alternatives when moving large boxes or tools around a factory. Using a forklift to transport heavier items can reduce the possibility of a manual handling accident on site.
Collisions with moving vehicles
Factories are busy work environments, and often the floor space is shared between the human workforce and moving vehicles like forklifts. Many factory accidents are caused by collisions between vehicles like forklifts and employees, and risk assessments should be completed to reduce the risk of these collisions happening.
Having separate areas for machinery and pedestrians will lower the risk of injury, and educating all members of staff, including forklift operators, on how to work in unison, is also important.
Our Head of Personal Injury at Watermans, Susanne McGraw says
“It is important that workers are kept safe in a workplace and that health and safety is not seen as an inconvenience or something to be ignored. People go to work to earn a living to look after their families and have money to enjoy their lives – not to go to work and be injured and have that ability to earn taken away from them.
Factories are dangerous and often fast-moving environments and employers need to ensure that the safety of their workers is paramount. The safety and protection of their employees must come before profit.”
I have been injured in an accident in a factory. What should I do next?
If you have been injured at work in a factory, you may be suffering from muscle damage, broken bones, loss of hearing, loss of sight or more. If you are forced to take time off from work because of your injuries, you may find that you are out of pocket due to a loss in earnings.
The consequences of being involved in a factory accident can leave you suffering physically, mentally, and financially, and it could put a strain on your loved ones, too. Because of this, if the factory accident was not your fault, you have a right to seek compensation for your injuries.
At Watermans, we offer straightforward legal advice, so that you know where you stand at each step in the process. We take the hassle out of the legal side of things, so that you can concentrate on your recovery.
To speak to our personal injury experts, use the contact form below, or call us on 0131 555 7055.