For top productivity, work environments should be founded upon safety and comfort. Yet in order for workplaces to achieve this status, managers and employees must first be aware of potential workplace hazards.
While each work environment has its own unique amalgamation of potential dangers, some of the top hazards have been found to deal with ergonomics and chemicals, as well as a variety of safety and physical risks.
Ergonomic hazards are defined as occurring when your work duties place major strain on your body (Takeonstep.org). These hazards are extremely dangerous due to their deceptive nature, as individuals are often unaware of the harm they are placing upon the body until long after the damage has been done.
Sometimes these strains occur due to spending long hours sitting or standing in an uncomfortable position. Other times they can transpire due to bad lighting or repetitive lifting.
To prevent ergonomic hazards from occurring, workers should stay aware of any signs of potential strains and take breaks when they deem necessary.
Adjusting Equipment Without the Necessary Protective Gear
Depending on the task, protective gear can play a crucial role in staying safe while at work. Thus, one might assume that wearing the necessary protective equipment is common knowledge; yet, even the most experienced worker may sometimes find him or herself repairing and adjusting equipment without the proper safety gear.
This hazard often occurs when least expected, for workers assume that they don’t need any protective gear because they will just be performing a “quick fix.” Yet, it can only take a single moment to end up with a serious injury. Therefore, workers should always wear the necessary protective equipment, even if they think a task might last only a few minutes.
Chemical hazards are a bit of an anomaly on a variety of levels. For one, they can occur in three different forms – solid, liquid, or gas. They also are different from other hazards in that they function on a continuum of safe, moderately safe, unsafe, potentially dangerous, dangerous, and lethal.
Furthermore, chemical impacts are not universal throughout, as some individuals are more sensitive than others. Therefore, what is generally thought of as “safe” to the general public can cause irritation or health issues to those that are particularly sensitive.
To prevent chemical hazards, workers should first be aware if they are sensitive to any particular chemicals. Beyond that, workers should be extremely cautious around liquids, fumes, gases, and pesticides.
Operating at Unsafe Speeds
At almost every workplace, there are hectic moments where the tasks seem to multiply every second. In response to this, workers may try to speed up their work process to a level beyond what they are normally use to. While the motive for doing may seem sound and logical, workers must realize the great danger that they are putting themselves and their peers in.
For example, if a worker operating heavy machinery speeds up beyond the normal level, he or she will not be as comfortable in handling and controlling the machine(s). This lack of comfort and control can result in fatal injuries, for as noted above, it only takes one moment for an fatal injury to occur.
Using Defective Tools
Another common workplace hazard is using defective tools. This hazard is most often associated with work environments that are not frequently analyzed or inspected. Safety managers might naturally assume that if a tool turns on, then it is good to use. While logically this might make sense, some machines are actually able to operate under defective states.
Therefore, in order to prevent accidents due to using defective tools, managers and employees should be alert when inspecting and operating at the job site. If a tool’s effectiveness is even a question, workers should immediately stop, unplug it (if necessary), and give it a thorough inspection looking for potential defects.
Hazards Related to Work Environment
General workplace hazards are considered as situations or environments that cause noticeable stress or strain. Typically, such hazards revolve around heavy workload (intense demands, unmanageable paces) or issues dealing with respect (peer support, sexual harassment).
In attempts to prevent these types of hazards, workers are advised to do their best to communicate their stresses, strains, or concerns with their colleagues or peers, for often these hazards transpire unintentionally, and thus can be solved through direct communication.
General Safety Hazards
While all the aforementioned hazards can be considered “safety hazards,” there does exist a particular niche of hazards that relate directly with general unsafe working conditions, such as missing pins or nails, frayed cords, or improper wiring.
Such hazards are typically easy to solve, but first require astute managers and workers who can identify these potential dangers before an accident occurs.
While this article serves as a great overview of some of the top workplace hazards, it should be noted that many of these dangers (e.g. chemical hazards) are multi-dimensional. Thus, managers and workers could explore and analyze these hazards even further, particularly if they are creating or redesigning a safety and heath program.
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