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  7. 5 Common Hazards in the Workplace and How They Can Be Avoided

5 Common Hazards in the Workplace and How They Can Be Avoided


Receiving first aid after an accident at work

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.

Noise Hazards

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.

Fire Risks

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

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.

Electrical Dangers

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.

Health and Safety Training is Needed in All Industries and Workplaces

Irrespective of whether it is a factory, a corporate office, construction site, store, restaurant, or anything else, workplace safety should be diligently observed. Though it is the responsibility of the employer to provide a safe workplace, the employees should also make sure that they follow the safety instructions properly. It is all about going safely back to the family each day.

There are many safety hazards that are lurking in the offices all across the globe. These can range from office fires, slips, trips, falls, electrocution, and other accidents which can cause serious injuries to the employees and the office property as well.

People are often not aware of the risks that may be lurking at the workplace; or at the very least, certainly not all of them. One of the most common office risks is the negative health issues associated with overworking and stress. Apart from bringing down the employee's motivation in general, such a practice also leads to severe health complications. It is important to step away from the desk and take a break. This will also avoid straining the neck and back muscles that a regular sedentary lifestyle inevitably leads to.

Proper training programs in health and safety allow employees to be more aware of the safety hazards and good practices that help avoid them. This will also help the companies save themselves from financial liabilities that crop up from such accidents and poor employee health. The most significant benefit of conducting safety training is that the morale of the employees and their trust in their employer will soar. This is going to create a highly productive atmosphere in addition to a safe place in which to work.

Selected Courses

Please see below for a selection of health and safety courses and qualifications which you may be interested in:

NEBOSH National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety

The NEBOSH National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety is the flagship NEBOSH qualification, and is the first UK vocational qualification to be developed specifically for health and safety professionals.

The NEBOSH National Diploma provides the core health and safety knowledge (transferable across industry, commerce and the public sector) which, combined with understanding and appropriate application, underpins the competent performance of an occupational health and safety practitioner.

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NEBOSH National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety

The NEBOSH General Certificate is one of the most popular and widely-held health and safety qualifications in the UK. It is intended to be taken by managers, supervisors and any other employees who require an understanding of general health and safety issues.

The NEBOSH General Certificate covers the main legal requirements for health and safety in the UK, along with the identification and control of workplace hazards, and the practical application of this knowledge. The general content of the NEBOSH General Certificate syllabus means it is suitable and relevant for those working in virtually any industry, and is often used as a solid foundation for those going on to further study and specialising in a particular area such as construction site health and safety or fire safety.

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IOSH Managing Safely Course

The IOSH Managing Safely course is designed for managers and supervisors of organisations in virtually all industry sectors, in order to give them all they need to know to effectively manage health and safety in the workplace.

Recently updated, the new high impact programme covers key health and safety issues, and includes references to international case studies.

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CITB Site Management SMSTS Course

The Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) is one of the most popular health and safety training courses, and is intended for construction site managers, project managers and senior supervisors, as well as proprietors of smaller companies.

Client-based personnel would also benefit from attending the SMSTS course.

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