How common are office injuries and accidents?

The myth that offices are safe places to work takes a considerable amount of demolishing, so entrenched is it in the national psyche. However, filled with hazards ranging from unsafe office machinery, furniture and fittings to none-ergonomic work stations, unsafe floors and storage, repetitive tasks such as typing and hours of sedentary work the potential for harm to come to an office worker is far from minimal.

True, the rate of injuries and accidents is far higher is other sectors of the economy; indeed the 33 per 100,000 workers experiencing a serious injury in an office and 72 per 100,000 experiencing an injury requiring more than 3 days away from work, puts office work at the bottom of the Health and Safety Executive’s work injury incidence scale amongst the industry sectors for which there is data, but accidents and injuries in offices there most definitely are. To be precise, 1,035 serious injuries and 2,249 injuries requiring a three day plus absence from work in 2010-11 alone.

Data from the UK’s Labour Force Survey for 2010-11 strongly suggests substantial under reporting of accidents that occur in offices. The main reason for this under reporting is apparently the victims’ reluctance to blame anyone other than themselves for their accident as it occurred in an environment that everyone knows is completely safe to work in. After all, you can’t kill yourself with a paper cut and you’re not going to fracture your foot if you drop a roll of sellotape onto it. If only all office mishaps were so minor.

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