Don’t Ignore These 5 Common Workplace Hazards
No matter what your work environment is office, restaurant, warehouse, showroom, construction site, store. There is going to be potential hazards.
And surprisingly, a lot of them will be similar in any of those working environments.
This blog will take a look at 5 of the most common workplace hazards that can easily go unchecked.
1. Slips, Trips and Falls
Would you believe that the most common type of injury in the UK workplace is in fact Slips, Trips and Falls (STF). It sounds like we’re all just extremely clumsy if we mostly injure ourselves falling over, but it isn’t as simple as that.
The main culprits behind STF injuries is none other than… ourselves, of course. And no, I don’t mean tripping over our own feet.
Things like wet surfaces, trailing cables, forgotten boxes and items strewn around, are some of the main causes of slips, trips and falls.
To be fair to ourselves, other factors such as uneven floors and poor lighting can cause for a unsteady journey. And if caught unaware, even the slightest cause can whip your feet out from under you faster than than you can say Wooooah.
STF accidents will inevitably happen but you can take simple steps to make your workplace as safe as possible for your employees.
For example, clean up spills as quickly as possible, clearing away equipment whenever possible, improve your lighting (you’ll be amazed what a difference it makes) and insisting on proper slip-resistant footwear.
If you see something that is out of place, or requires attention make sure you let someone know and get it sorted as soon as possible to prevent further STF injuries.
2. Poor Housekeeping
Poor housekeeping isn’t just an eyesore, it can become a real hazard, real quick.
If you think about it, a lot of housekeeping tasks don’t require a dedicated housekeeping team.
It is a simple matter of putting things where they go and cleaning up after yourselves. Easy.
What you really need is to have the whole team switched on and alert to possible risks.
Take for example the person who normal receives the delivery is off. Another member of staff signs for it, and not knowing where it goes, sets it beside the delivery door. Someone else will see it there and deal with it, right? Maybe, but is it worth the risk?
Say someone is coming through that door with their hands full. That door is normally unobscured, therefore this person trips and falls and injuries themselves.
As we stated STF are the most common type of injury and often caused due to poor housekeeping.
And what if there was a fire? The delivery could be blocking a fire exit? It is examples like this that seem extreme but one thing out of place could cause disaster in a disastrous situation.
On the most part, people need to take accountability for good housekeeping in the workplace. Ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away, and in fact, often makes it worse.
So be aware and clean up after yourself and fix a problem as soon as you become aware of it.
No, we aren’t just talking about terrible pop music pouring through the speakers or the cackle of the people next door through the weak walls.
We are talking about serious work noise, where the noise reaches 85 decibels. That’s around about the sound of a passing train at 15m.
Excessive noise can cause permanent damage to your hearing. Hearing loss can either take place progressively over a long period or, if the noise is exceptionally loud and sudden, instantly.
Helpfully, the HSE gives some guidance on noise levels.
For example, employers must provide hearing protection and hearing protection zones when workplace noise reaches 85 decibels.
There’s also an exposure limit value of 87 decibels.
Employees must not be exposed to noise above this level.
4. Lack of First Aid Training
A first aid kit does not replace a trained first aider, as many businesses like to think.
Since 1981, businesses have been required to provide ‘adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities and personnel to ensure their employees receive immediate attention if they are injured or taken ill at work.’
However, what counts as adequate and appropriate will depend on your workplace. A timber yard, for example, will have radically different requirements than a call centre.
It is essential you assess your first-aid needs before someone requires help, to ensure you can provide adequate assistance. That could mean having an appropriate number of staff trained in first aid and ensuring their training is up-to-date.
5. Ergonomic Hazards
Not all hazards are obvious and sinister and easy to spot. While hazards like frayed wires are immediately identifiable by even untrained employees, other hazards are more subtle, hiding in the background.
Such as ergonomic hazards.
An ergonomic hazard is basically any physical factor in your environment that hurts your body. Things like flimsy office chairs, poor lighting and invasive noise are all common examples of ergonomic hazards.
One of the main problems with ergonomic hazards is that they don’t have an immediate effect on you and that makes them tricky to identify. After all, how do you spot a problem if you can’t see any effects?
You have to be proactive. Ergonomics is all about changing your environment to reduce the wear and tear on your body so you don’t just wait for things to go wrong.
Simple ergonomic fixes can have a huge impact on your staff members’ health.
Things like varying your tasks to reduce repetitive movements, integrating breaks to give your body time to recover, training staff in the most efficient way of working and providing equipment and furniture that is designed to complement the human body.
This is a guest post written by Aimee McGuinness. Aimee works with Safety Training Scotland providing expert knowledge and advice on all things health and safety.
What do you think? Please leave a comment.