Workplace safety is one of the most vital factors every organization should mandatorily follow. No matter what industry you work in, every employee wants to be in a healthy, safe, and protected environment.
Furthermore, workplace safety keeps workers from harm and saves the organization from costly job-related injury expenses that might happen if workplace safety wasn’t implemented at all.
Types of Workplace Hazards
In 2016, workplace hazards gave rise to 5,190 workplace deaths in the US, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Identifying these hazards can help you be prepared to control or eliminate them and prevent workplace accidents from happening.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides the six workplace hazards you should know about:
Safety hazards are dangerous working conditions that can cause a worker’s illness, injury, or death. This is the most common hazard there is in every industry people work in. Safety hazards include the following:
- Electrical hazards such as improper wiring, exposed live wires, frayed cords, and missing ground pins.
- Working in confined spaces;
- Working in great heights such as roofs, ladders, scaffolds, or tall buildings;
- Machine-related hazards such as forklifts and boiler safety;
- Moving machinery and unguarded machinery;
- Spills on floors.
Biological hazards are substances produced by organisms that may pose a threat to human health. It is associated with working with insects, animals, infectious plant materials, or people. Moreover, common workplaces that are more prone to these hazards may include schools, laboratories, hospitals, nursing homes, and outdoor occupations.
Examples of biological hazards that workers may be exposed to are the following:
- Bacteria and viruses;
- Fungi or mold;
- Insect bites;
- Animal droppings
Chemical hazards are present when a worker is exposed to unsafe chemicals, whether in solid, liquid, or gas form. It is essential to know that some workers might be more sensitive to chemicals than others, resulting in skin irritation, illnesses, or breathing problems. You should be aware of:
- Liquids such as paints, acids, cleaning products, and solvents;
- Gases like helium, acetylene, carbon monoxide, and propane;
- Flammable materials such as gasoline and explosive chemicals;
- Vapors and fumes produced from welding or exposure to solvents.
Ergonomic hazards are present when the type of work causes strains on the worker’s body. They are the hardest to identify since you don’t always immediately notice strains in the body and the harm that this may bring. Below are examples of ergonomic hazards:
- Poor posture;
- Frequent lifting;
- Repetitive movements;
- Frequently using too much force;
- Improperly adjusted chairs and workstations.
Work Organization Hazard
Work organization hazards are those that can cause a worker’s stress and strains. This type of hazard is associated with workplace issues. Work organization hazards may include:
- Workload demands;
- Lack of respect;
- Workplace violence;
- Sexual harassment;
- Work intensity.
Physical hazards are factors seen in the environment that can cause bodily harm without even touching it. These may include the following:
- Extreme temperatures;
- Constant loud noises;
- Prolonged sun exposure.
Tips to Improve Workplace Safety
After knowing and identifying workplace hazards, it is essential to address the matter to ensure workplace safety. Remember that no matter how much effort you put into maintaining a safe work area for your employees, it won’t do any good if they are unaware of it. Hence, it is vital to work together in achieving a healthy, safe, and protected workplace for everyone.
Training is a must for preventing workplace injuries. As mentioned earlier, the employer and the employee should work hand in hand to maintain a safe workplace. Make sure that your employees get the training they all need.
Reward Safe Behavior
Giving out rewards is a way to encourage employees to continue practicing workplace safety. Furthermore, rewards will keep the employees more engaged in the workplace, leading to decreased workplace injuries. You can hand out gift cards or movie tickets to employees who consistently demonstrate safety guidelines.
Repetitive motion injuries can happen to workers anytime. That is why taking stretch breaks, even just for five minutes, is a great advantage. Hence, it is good to encourage workers to take 5-minute stretch breaks to reduce muscle and joint tensions.
Associate with Local Occupational Companies
You can hire local occupational companies that can help you improve safety guidelines. These companies tend to have clinicians that determine the risks that are present in your workplace. They also have physical therapists that can teach your employees about ergonomics.
Execute Safety Protocols
It is vital to implement workplace safety from day one. This also comes with hiring qualified people that are willing to follow safety protocols. According to OSHA, one of the most cited violations in 2019 was fall protection. Workplace fall injuries can easily be prevented by using guardrail systems.
Moreover, it is vital to start your company with the right safety systems to execute proper safety protocols. To know more about safety guardrails, click here.
Provide the Right Tools and Equipment for the Employees and Conduct Equipment Inspections Regularly
Employees should have the right tools and equipment to do their job better and to keep safe while working. Aside from that, these tools and equipment should also be cleaned consistently and regularly inspected to prevent accidents from happening. Machine malfunctions are one of the most dangerous hazards in the workplace.
Some industries, like the construction industry, require a lot more protective equipment than others. An example of this would be wearing safety shoes. Safety shoes are used to protect the worker from trips, burns, slips, and even electric shocks.
Conduct Regular Meetings Concerning Workplace Safety
Regular meetings that discuss ways to improve your current safety protocols or review safety guidelines are an excellent way to keep updated about the importance of workplace safety. It never hurts to be prepared all the time concerning safety. If an accident happens, everyone in your company will already know what to do. This is because you have already prepared them for this kind of situation.
Workplace safety is excellent for the wellness of both the worker and the employer. As an employer, it is your responsibility to provide a safe workplace for everyone. Always remember that “it is better to be safe than sorry.”
Richard Perkins has been actively writing blog articles for more than five years already. He loves writing about building constructions and engineering equipment innovations since it suits his educational background. In his free time, Richard loves to play basketball.