Health and safety can never be overlooked. It can increase efficiency, but businesses that take steps to eliminate occupational risks may improve staff morale and their image.
Also, observing proper health and safety standards in any business may prevent financially draining lawsuits. Take for example the 9/11 cancer types resulting from the World Trade Center Bombing in 2011. Without the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program, many companies and organization would most likely have gone bankrupt catering to claims filed by direct victims and their representatives for damages caused by the attack.
You may face financial and custodial fines if you ignore your duty to protect your employees. As a result, it’s essential that you effectively handle all the risks analyzed in your workplace.
But before workplace safety measures may be put into place, it’s crucial to identify and consider their causes first. Knowing this will also help you take additional precautions to protect you and your staff from further danger.
That said, here are the six workplace health and safety hazards to watch out for:
Chemicals that aren’t used, prepared, treated correctly, or left exposed to employees can cause damage, sickness, allergies, burn, asthma, or, in worst cases, gene mutation. In worst cases, they may also cause explosions in the workplace.
These chemicals can be found in liquids such as cleaning materials, paints, acids, and solvents. Those found in vapors and fumes are produced by welding or chemical exposure. They may also be present in gases such as acetylene, propane, and carbon monoxide. They may also be present in combustible products such as oils, solvents, explosive agents, and pesticides.
When a worker is subjected to some chemical preparation in the workplace through skin contact, inhalation, or ingestion, the impact can occur immediately or over time, which can cause severe damage to the person’s body systems.
Some employees spend many hours a day sitting at a desk, looking at a monitor. This results in ergonomic strains and musculoskeletal injuries linked to posture and repeated activity. Thus, it’s important to find the best ergonomic chair options to keep your employees’ postures and musculoskeletal systems healthy.
Unfortunately, you and your employees may not immediately feel the pressure on your body or the danger these hazards pose. For example, in an office, ergonomic hazards brought by poor workstation configurations can be most challenging to detect. However, some symptoms from short-term exposure include sore muscles the next day or in the days after.
Every biological material that could affect humans is considered a biological hazard or biohazard. There are many sources of biological hazards. These could be bacteria and viruses, blood and other body fluids, fungi/mold, plants, insect bites, and animal and bird droppings. Thus, daycare facilities; schools, colleges, and universities; and hospitals, emergency response, and nursing homes are the usual workplaces where this type of hazard can be found.
Workers with chronic health problems may also be sources of some biological hazards. Employers are therefore advised to take steps to correctly record their workers’ medical histories and conduct pre-employment medical exams.
Physical hazards aren’t necessarily anything you can see or touch. These are the elements in the atmosphere that can cause damage to the body without any contact. They may include heights, noise, radiation, temperature, and pressure.
Employees who are regularly exposed to radiation are known to develop several types of cancers, according to some studies. Meanwhile, workers exposed to the sun for an extended amount of time or adverse weather conditions may be in danger of facing physical risks that may have long-term consequences to their welfare.
Safety is paramount. However, some factors make working conditions hazardous. The two most common are electrical and machinery and tools hazards.
Electrical burns, electrical sparks, and electrical shocks may be common for some offices. These incidents are all triggered by unprotected exposure to high-voltage electrical outlets. Any staff is directly at risk of electrical injuries because there may be times that they have to use defective extension cords or operate in areas with uncovered power lines. In some instances, this will result in minor to severe injuries, including burns, heart arrest, and even death (electrocution).
In worse cases, though, faulty or damaged wirings may start fires. Fire accidents are hazardous and can result in the loss of life and property. Worse is when it escalates to explosions. What can lead to severe injuries and fatalities.
Machinery and tool injuries are another concern for employees who work in the manufacturing or transportation industry. These injuries are often triggered by the use of defective appliances, a lack of proper knowledge, product flaws, or the failure to follow prescribed safety precautions. Common results of machines and tool hazards include burns caused by faulty heaters, falls from defective ladders or unstable scaffolding, cuts caused by broken or sharp tool points, and other injuries from the use of an inappropriate instrument.
Psychosocial hazards are those factors that have the potential to negatively impact an employee’s mental health or well-being. Sexual assault, victimization, depression, and workplace harassment are only a few examples. These hazards may result in an unsafe working climate and decreased morale, which may negatively impact productivity.
Keep in mind that the six types of workplace hazards listed here aren’t all-inclusive. As an employer, it’s your task to ensure that your employees are protected from these hazards by providing protocol and following occupational-and-health-issued regulations.
On the other hand, employees must also recognize circumstances and conditions in the workplace that may jeopardize their well-being and take the necessary steps to protect themselves.