Working in any environment will have specific risks and dangers, even if you are in an office! Hazards are all around us and are a part of life. Getting proper training and having the right resources is needed to minimise these workplace hazards, and workers are safe!
But first of all, what workplace hazards are there? It depends where you work and what you do for work. However, we can discuss the most common workplace hazards. There is $480 million paid each year to compensate workers for workplace injuries. It costs the economy $61.8 billion yearly from work-related injury and disease. To reduce this massive number, an employer or employee needs to make sure the proper precautions are in place. To protect not only yourself but for anybody who steps foot in the business!
The best way to combat workplace hazards is to focus on prevention. Workplace hazards can occur at any time; minimising the risk of these hazards is essential to minimise the chance of someone getting hurt. So, what preventive methods are there?
Risk Management Assessment
Risk Management is the process of outlining all possible risks in the workplace and determining the chance of that occurring, and implementing strategies to overcome these risks.
- Identify Hazards – Discover what can cause harm.
- Assess risks – Find out what damage can be caused by the hazard. The seriousness of it and the chance of it occurring.
- Control Risks – Implement an effective and reasonably practicable plan to reduce risk.
- Review the control plan to ensure if it is working as planned
For example, Gravity could be a risk in a warehouse where objects might fall off shelving and could possibly harm someone. The chances of an object falling are increased when they are unstable (badly stacked and placed). A strategy to avoid objects falling off shelves is implementing a stacking method that prioritises stacking things in the most stable way to ensure nothing slips off the shelving.
This is just an example of how to reduce the risk of that specific safety hazard occurring and can be easily applied to most workplace hazards.
Of course, the risk of an accident happening might be less at an office over an industrial site.
The Most Common Hazards
The office is a workplace that does have some hazards of its own. Usually very different to an industrial site, an office job doesn’t require you to do high-risk work, but there are still hazards that can cause mental distress and possibly impact mental health!
An organisational hazard in the workplace is typically one which can cause mental health deterioration due to stress or other issues such as poor relationships and communication. It’s an environment that requires a lot of mental capacity, and specific tasks can be overwhelming. Managers might put pressure on you, and this can create hostility in the workplace. Usually, it is because the organisation does not have policies in place to protect employees. It can be poor employee relationships, lack of work flexibility, harassment and more, which can create workplace hostility.
There are some great methods to decrease organisational hazards in the office.
- Encourage open communication with everyone at the business
- Invest in team-building exercises
- Discuss the importance of respect and accountability
- Make sure that employees feel safe
- Implement workplace equality policies
These are just a few easy ways to decrease organisational hazards in the workplace.
Industrial work is generally more physical and intense on the body. It can involve contact with dangerous equipment, chemicals and more. It is important to have a thorough Risk Management Plan for these environments to ensure the utmost safety for employees.
The most common hazards in an industrial workplace are:
Hazards from machinery can be life-threatening, especially with improper training. Plant and Machinery equipment is designed to help make a product, whether it be a forklift or machinery that cuts metal. Usually, they require some form of training before operation, but experience is beneficial too. A lack of experience accounts for some accidents as well. To avoid these types of hazards, make sure you are fully confident in your ability to operate machinery if employees feel uncertain or want to retrain. Be open to this and allow employees to be retrained at any time. Or provide extra supervision for less-experienced supervision. This might be more expensive; however, you’ll save on having fewer workplace accidents in the long term.
Chemical Hazards are some of the most dangerous hazards. Not only can they cause serious bodily harm, if they come into contact with you, they can also cause death.
They can include:
- Flammable Chemicals
The best way to avoid chemical hazards is to wear protective clothing designed to protect the wearer from contamination. This can be gas masks, extra-thick boots and bodysuits.
Making sure that workers understand the chemicals they are working with and how to protect themselves is also another essential way to ensure a reduction in chemical exposure. In other cases putting up clear signage for the storage of certain chemicals is a must to make sure no one gets harmed transporting or checking stock.
This is a hazard that comes from an object which can transmit disease or poisons. This can be from a plant, people, contaminated objects, and even animals. It is most common for biological hazards to occur in agricultural centre’s, hospitals and labs. To avoid biological contamination, employers can:
- Train for staff cleanliness and sanitation
- Enforce procedures for contaminated individuals, animals and objects
- Have a disease prevention plan
- Encourage use of full protection clothing
Electrical Hazards can be caused from:
- Electric Current from Domestic Appliances (e.g. Fridges, Ovens, Microwaves, etc.)
- Electric Current from Machinery (e.g. workplace equipment)
Keeping safe from electrical hazards is best done with preventative maintenance. Check cables, power boards, and switches once a year, making sure to tag all electrical appliances to ensure they are safe for use. If not, make sure these items are updated and replaced to ensure nobody at work gets any electrical shock.
Do A First Aid Course!
Getting first aid training can be a great way to ensure you and your team will be safe in an emergency. Our HLTAID011 Provide First Aid course teaches you everything you need to know when helping or even saving someone. It only takes 5 hours, and you get your certificate on the same day too. We even come to your workplace and teach groups! Keep your workplace and yourself safe with a FirstAidPro first aid course.