Workers in professional services sector most likely to be attacked

The professional services industry, which includes lawyers, consultants and accountants, is the sector where staff are most likely to be attacked by colleagues or customers, according to research.

As many as one in 10 people have sustained an injury in the workplace in the past five years, according the research by Axa Insurance.

Injuries are most likely to be caused by work-related accidents (81%), for example, using machinery and tripping over, but 8% of work-related injuries sustained by employees resulted from a physical assault by a customer or colleague.

But it was employees in the professional services industry who are most likely to experience physical assault with almost double the average (15%) of employees reporting they had been subjected to violence.

The study also revealed that employees who work for large companies (250 employees or more) are almost twice as likely to suffer an injury while working compared to those employed by small and medium-sized companies (10 to 250 employees).

Smaller businesses (one to nine employees) also had a better record for workplace accidents and injuries when compared with large companies – 17% of small business employees have suffered injuries at work compared to 47% in large companies.

Strains and sprains are the most common result of an accident, accounting for 34% of workplace accidents. The AXA study also found that employees aged over 50 are most likely to have a fall while doing their job (47%) compared to 28% of 18- to 29-year-olds.

Douglas Barnett, risk control strategy manager at AXA, said accidents and injuries sustained in the workplace can be extremely costly for companies through employees having to take time off work to recover or because of compensation pay outs.

“Businesses of all shapes and sizes should assess the potential risks and dangers that the working environment may pose to their employees and ensure that they have stringent health and safety procedures in place,” he said.

Statistics published earlier this month showed that the number of people killed at work has dropped to its lowest level ever.

In 2005/2006 212 people were fatally injured, a reduction from 223 in 2004/2005. The rate is also the lowest on record, at a rate of 0.71 fatalities per 100,000 workers, according to Health and Safety Commission figures.

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