5 Common Hazards in the Workplace and How They can be Avoided
Injuries can occur anywhere and at any time, with places of work being prime examples of just how dangerous things can be if the correct safety and preventative measures aren't put in place. Hazards in the workplace are potentially everywhere, and they most certainly should not be ignored or taken lightly. If you or your employees were to become injured in the workplace, the consequences could potentially be devastating. Not only is there the risk of serious physical injury, there is also the risk of insurance claims and having to pay out compensation payments etc. When it comes to hazards in the workplace however, safety training is not only beneficial, it is also extremely necessary as it has the potential to save not only money, but lives as well. Here we'll be taking a look at five of the top hazards in the workplace, and what you can do to prevent them and help keep all employees and members of staff safe in the process.
When we think of hazards, generally we tend to think of slightly more physical examples such as: fire, slips, trips, falls, and electrocution etc. Whilst those are indeed very real hazards which we'll be looking at shortly, there is also a very significant danger of noise, particularly in industrial environments such as factories, although offices can be noisy and can potentially cause damage to hearing.
If the noise is loud enough to damage the hearing, and it is not reasonably practical to reduce or eliminate it, earplugs or noise-blocking earmuffs should be worn. Even if the noise isn't actually loud enough to damage a person's hearing, there is also the risk of it being too loud to hear alarms, instructions and warnings from other members of staff. Say for example a member of staff tries telling a fellow colleague not to use a certain piece of equipment as it is faulty, but due to the office being too loud, the staff member didn't hear the warning, used the machine anyways, and received an electric shock as a result. That could quite easily have been avoided by simply reducing noise in the workplace, as well as other more robust measures like immediately taking the machine out of the workplace as soon as it has been identified as unsafe.
Slips, Trips and Falls
Another very common hazard in the workplace which could occur anywhere and at anytime is the risk of slipping, tripping, or falling over. If the floor is wet or damp for example, a person is far more likely to slip over, which could potentially have devastating consequences. Even objects, boxes, or uneven surfaces can cause tripping hazards. All it would take would be for an employee to slip or trip over in the workplace, and there is the risk of broken bones, concussion, brain damage, or even death. Again, these mishaps could very easily be avoided by simply enforcing certain preventative measures, which could be covered in basic health and safety training courses. Of course sometimes accidents can't be avoided, but when it comes to slips, trips, and falls, these are all things that could greatly be reduced with the correct measures being understood and enforced.
No matter what type of business you happen to run, there is always a very substantial risk of fire, which is why it's so important for employees to be well educated on your company's fire safety regulations. With health and safety training, your employees will be informed of what to do in the event of a fire, where the emergency assembly point is located, where fire blankets, axes, and extinguishers are located, and indeed, which extinguishers should be used for which type of fire. Regular fire drills should be performed, and you should ensure that your fire alarm/sprinkler systems, are also in full working order. On top of this, your employees will need to be made aware of how the alarm systems and sprinkler systems work, which is another reason why health and safety training is so crucial to businesses, no matter how big or small they may be.
Hazardous substances could consist of cleaning products such as chemicals, or, if you work in medical-based businesses, could consist of substances such as bodily fluids like blood or saliva. If you work in a confined space, the risks associated with chemicals are especially apparent as there are very real dangers of breathing in and being overcome by fumes and vapours. As well as being at risk from chemical inhalation, there is also the risk of irritation to the skin, as some chemicals and solvents can be corrosive. Eye injuries and permanent blindness could occur if chemicals were to be splashed in the eyes, which is why protective clothing and eyewear should always be worn when handling chemicals. Hazardous chemicals will be labelled accordingly, although hazardous substance safety training will help you to clearly identify which warning symbols symbolise which potential danger. Not only that, you and your employees will also learn of the correct ways to handle and dispose of these chemicals, and how they should be used safely and correctly.
Virtually all businesses will have an electricity supply to them, which means that anybody and everybody could potentially be at risk of electrocution. Electrical shocks can be fatal so knowing how to handle working around electricity, is absolutely essential. Health and safety training will help you and your employees learn how to maintain electrical installations, how to tell if an electrical appliance or installation is faulty, what NOT to do in the event of an electrical fire, and much more besides.
The level of detail regarding electrical dangers will depend upon the type of health and safety course being taken. Some like the NEBOSH General Certificate will only cover the dangers to health which electricity poses and best practices for avoiding such a hazard; it will not go into so much detail that an attendee could then consider themselves an electrician who is competent enough to start messing with the building's wiring. For this, a specialist and accredited course aimed specifically at electricians will be required.