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The 4 most common workplace hazards and how to mitigate them

February 27, 2024

As a business, you have a duty to keep your people safe, which is usually underpinned by health and safety laws such as the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005. Workplaces can pose various health and safety hazards, and specific risks can vary depending on the industry and nature of the work you undertake. However, some risks overlap most industries and can be applied to all workplaces, such as the rising issue of mental health.

It is estimated that workplace injuries and illnesses cost Ireland up to €3.6 billion each year¹. Ensuring you do everything you can to minimise risks exposed to your employees’ health and safety is crucial for any business by preventing accidents and boosting productivity – and knowing what common things to look out for is a good place to start.

  1. Stress and mental health

Mental health issues are estimated to cost the Irish economy approximately €11 billion each year, yet 80% of employers in Ireland are currently not investing in workplace mental health². In the year 2021-2022, over a million working days were lost due to work-related illness, such as stress, depression or anxiety³.

Ease the pressure of lost work days and boost staff wellbeing by providing your employees with access to mental health support and resources. Workplace health and wellbeing benefits such as Private Medical Insurance ensure that you can fulfill your business needs and the needs of your people. By offering a great working environment and tools to support your people, you’ll create a culture where your people feel highly valued and motivated to bring their best selves to work each day.

  1. Slips, trips and falls

Last year, there were over 9,000 non-fatal work-related injuries reported by employers in Ireland. However, it’s estimated that many injuries go unreported. In the UK, the Labour Force Survey (conducted by self-reports) estimates the total to be much higher than the 60,000 reported annually - at over 500,000 incidents. 32% of employer-reported non-fatal injuries occurred due to slips, trips or falls – the largest category.

You should conduct a workplace risk assessment to establish how slips, trips and falls can be prevented and how hazards should be identified. Keeping floors clear of wires, objects and slippery surfaces is important and should be communicated to all staff.

  1. Fire and electrical hazards

Most fires are preventable, yet there are still 16,000 fires in workplaces around Ireland each year. A fire risk assessment can help you identify weak points in your fire safety strategy such as potential sources of ignition, extinguishers or smoke detectors that need servicing, and what flammable substances are present on site. Based on the findings of the assessment, employers need to ensure that adequate and appropriate fire safety measures are in place to minimise the risk of injury or loss of life in the event of a fire.

In the year 2022-2023, the biggest cause of non-deliberate workplace fires was faulty or incorrect use of electrics in the UK. Staying up to date with PAT testing every 5 years as standard and training staff on proper use is vital for businesses to reduce their risk of electrical fire.

  1. Manual handling and ergonomics

Many workplaces don’t recognise a problem with their manual handling processes or work environment until there is an incident or injury. By then, you may have encountered a personal accident claim, with severe musculoskeletal injury compensation payouts potentially costing your business up to €180,000.

Reducing the risk of manual handling injuries for your employees involves implementing training and risk assessments to ensure they use the correct and safe techniques when moving heavy loads. You should also provide tools and equipment where necessary, especially when employees are moving loads that exceed individual capability.

Conducting workstation assessments is also important to ensure that your employees are comfortable using display screen equipment (DSE) as part of their normal work. Workers must have reasonable adjustments made to their environment if they request such, including the provision of ergonomic chairs, mice, display equipment or wrist rests, amongst other adaptions.

There are many other risks, some more specific to occupation (such as industrial contexts) that companies need to be aware of and manage in order to keep employees safe. NFP can provide you with sensible and straightforward risk management and heath and safety solutions to help your business thrive whilst complying with the law. 


Dr. Paul Cummins, CEO of SeaChange (an NFP company)

With many years of experience in the health and safety field, NFP’s health and safety business, SeaChange Ltd, is on hand to deliver bespoke safety management solutions that engage the workforce in preventing incidents and help organisations achieve a positive, sustainable safety culture.
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