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When Lack Of Space To Work Properly Can Lead To Accident Injury

17th December 2013
Finding space to live or to work is always a challenge, especially at a time of economic downturn. There are countless thousands of small businesses who today who, by necessity, operate out of tiny and often cramped workshop units and office spaces around the country.

Non-fatal occupational accidents now account for over two million office related injuries and illnesses each year, worldwide (The International Labour Office) and the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) report there were 115,000 injuries reported under RIDDOR, 2010 and 2011.

The likelihood of an accident taking place is always increased when workers, office furniture, equipment or factory machinery are tightly squeezed into confined spaces. While accident claims for minor injuries, such as grazed knees or bruised elbows, which can result from having to work in a restricted or overly occupied space are rare, it’s not uncommon for injury compensation to be claimed for when a serious accident occurs due to fire, reduced oxygen levels, noxious fumes, lack of adequate ventilation, etc.

However, in busy small offices or workshops, where people, desks, filing cabinets, equipment and machinery are in close proximity, a small incident can cause a much bigger problem. In hot weather, for example, where a densely packed work space may mean a lack of windows or sufficient ventilation can give rise to highly uncomfortable conditions, becoming easily distracted and the likelihood of an accident taking place.

On a daily basis, office workers may have to awkwardly manoeuvre in and out of desks positioned behind office doors or photocopiers constantly in use, or by protruding steel filing cabinets, even stacked up boxes of company stock waiting to be dealt with. Sometimes, desk drawers fail to completely shut leading to injuries to shins or ankles!

On the factory floor, workstations, such as sewing machines may be lined up side by side while large trolleys or consignments of stock occupy every available inch of floor-space. Sometimes the slightest movement of the elbow can dislodge or completely dismantle one or more nearby items.

It is often in confined, overly occupied spaces where there is the greatest risk of fire accompanied by the inability to either contain its spread or safely evacuate the premises. A fire drill can reveal how easy it is for employees to receive an injury to their limbs or catch their clothing as they negotiate their way from behind their desks or workstations as they attempt to reach the designated Assembly Point in time.