Occupational Injuries definition. An occupational injury is a damage to your body resulting from your working occupation. Are also considered as occupational injuries those which occured on the way to and from work (= normal route to and from the workplace).

Occupational Injury facts. Each year about 5500 (15/ day) workers die during their duty and about 50,000 die from work-related injuries in the United States. Additionally 200 workers are hospitalized each day increasing the number of work related injuries or illnesses to approximately 4 million.

Most injured Organs by Occupational Injuries. The usual body parts affected by occupational injuries are: eyes, hands, foot, legs, spine, head, bones and skin. This is why protection should be emphasized on these body parts.

Common Risks of industry Injuries. Risk factors are manifolds and may be found in all components of the work:

  • Staff itself (lack of sleep, addictions …)
  • Organization and methods of work (night shifts, inadequate safety training…)
  • Working environment (stress, poor ergonomy …)
  • Products, materials and waste (handling toxics, exposure to general hazards…)
  • Equipment and materials (elevated working places, misuse or failure of equipment, inadequate clothing…)

General hazards in a work environment. Workers may sometimes handle and come in contact with hazardeous products. These require special care and caution. You should be aware of this when working with:

  • Electricity
  • Heat
  • Water
  • Explosives, flammable, high-pressure resp. hot gases and liquids,
  • Height
  • Powerful machineries,
  • Poisonous gas, radioactive and toxic materials
  • Heavy structures

Work Related Exposition Risks. All occupations are exposed to accidents, but some more than others. This is particularly the case in the construction, the transport and handling and the fishing sectors (show figure).

New hires, temporary workers, people with fixed-term contracts are more at risk than other workers.

Prevention of Occupational Injuries. Employer and employee have different roles to play for the prevention of accidents on their working place. On the one side, employers are required to assess the risks and implement actions to prevent them. On the other side, employees have to strictly follow these measures of health and safety and also help to avoid accidents.

Role of the employer. The employer relies on both monitoring recommendations (extern) and good internal rules to control work hazards and prevent accidents during work.

The employer has to ensure the safety and protect the physical and mental health of his workers. To this end, it shall:

  • Perform actions of occupational risk prevention
  • Conduct information campaigns and trainings
  • Establish an organization and appropriate resources.

To prevent and reduce accidents at the working place, the employer has to follow these principles:

  • Avoid risk
  • Evaluate risks which cannot be avoided
  • Fight risks at their source
  • Adapt the work to their employees
  • Replace dangerous actions by more friendly actions
  • Have a prevention plan
  • Take collective protection measures before choosing individual protective measures
  • Give appropriate instructions to the workers.

Each company has an obligation to assess its working risks which means identifying and classifying the potential risks. This risk assessment is composed of three different steps:

  • Develop a program of action
  • Implement actions
  • Evaluate the prevention approach
Role of the employees. Employees must also play an active role in the process of accident prevention. They must take care of their health and safety as well as those of the other employees. In this framework, they must:
  • Think before acting
  • Prepare in advance all the necessary equipment to perform a task
  • Act in concert (teamwork)
  • Monitor the environment
  • Prevent danger
  • Think of an area of retreat or evacuation
  • Communicate with each other and with officials
  • Follow operational procedures
  • Achieve the mission
  • Review and report .

Prevention business. The prevention of work accidents involves internal and external stakeholders in the company.

The employer is responsible for work organization and work discipline in the company. He is thus in charge for prevention.

The company doctor plays an important role in prevention. His mission is to educate employers and employees to work accidents and advise. It is therefore necessary to work in partnership with him and follow his recommendations.

The inspector is responsible for ensuring compliance with health and safety at work.

The staff representative bodies, such as the Health Security and Working Conditions Committee (or if it does not exist, the staff delegates) contribute to protecting the health and safety of employees and to improving working conditions. They should be consulted before any major development decisions.

The Social Security system also advises companies and encourages them to prevent occupational hazards.

Employees sould also participate in the prevention of accidents and occupational risk business by informing and interacting with the other actors of prevention.