5 Common Workplace Hazards and What You Can Do About Them

September 4, 2019 4:10 pm

Work Safety

The workplace is one of the spaces that people spend most of their time in. With that said, it should also be a place where employees are happy, productive, and most of all, safe.

One of the biggest factors that affect employee happiness and productivity is the safety of the work environment. Of course, there are certain industries that naturally come with more risks, but it’s the job of employers and managers to reduce work-related risks as much as possible.

In this guide, we’ll be tackling some of the common workplace hazards and effective solutions you can apply to minimise or eliminate them:

1. Ergonomic Hazards

When workers are required to repeat the same movements or perform heavy-duty tasks without the proper assistive devices, it can typically lead to musculoskeletal injuries. This type of injuries commonly affect the back, forearms, shoulders, hands, neck, and wrists.

What you can do:

  • Prevention through awareness and training.
  • Have ergonomically designed assistive devices.
  • Eliminate or reduce repetitive tasks.
  • Rotate shifts so employees can take a break from doing repetitive tasks.

2. Safety Hazards

Unsafe working conditions are considered a safety hazard and can be anything that causes injury, illness, and death. Typical safety hazards include objects or environments that cause injuries, spills, trips, and falls such as working from heights, unorganised cords, and moving parts that a worker might accidentally sustain injuries from.

What you can do:

  • Conducting a thorough risk assessment is the first step to finding solutions.
  • Keep all items and equipment accounted for and stored properly when not in use.
  • Always have guardrails, especially in elevated work areas.
  • Look for first aid training courses in Brisbane CBD for designated employees.

3. Biological hazards

Biological hazards include illnesses and disease that can come from working with animals, people, poisonous plants, or contaminated objects. Hospitals, daycare establishments, laboratories, and agricultural facilities are common places that have these types of hazards.

What you can do:

  • Invest in proper working clothes.
  • Train and educate employees on the best cleanliness and sanitation practices.
  • Have a procedure for isolating individuals, animals, and objects that are found to be contaminated or sick.
  • Implement an effective disease prevention plan.
  • Encourage a healthy lifestyle and diet for employees.

4. Chemical Hazards

Any workplace that deals with chemical preparation or handling exposes employees to chemical hazards. Examples of sources are cleaning products, paint, gases like carbon monoxide and helium, flammable materials like gasoline, pesticides, and welding fumes.

What you can do:

  • Invest in protective clothing, including gas masks if needed.
  • Educate workers on the effects of hazardous chemicals.
  • Have equipment regularly maintained.
  • Put up signs or labels for dangerous substances or work areas.

5. Work Organisation Hazards

An environment that causes stress can easily be called a work organisation hazard. This can include unfair workload demands, lack of respect in the workplace, poor employee relationships, sexual harassment, violence, no work flexibility, and employees feeling like they have no control or say about work-related matters.

What you can do:

  • Encourage open communication between managers and workers.
  • Have a discreet method for employees to report problems in the workplace.
  • Practice workplace equality.
  • Hold meetings that highlight the importance of respect and accountability.
  • Make sure that workers know the consequences of physical abuse and sexual harassment.
  • Invest in team-building retreats or activities that improve office relationships.
  • Let employees know and feel that their opinions matter.
  • Have a fair employee promotion policy.

Reducing or eliminating workplace hazards can be a costly endeavour for business owners, but it’s definitely a worthwhile investment. Fewer hazards can lead to reduced absenteeism which is often caused by work-related illness, injury, and stress.

The happier, safer, and healthier your employees are, the more productive and efficient they can be at work. After all, the employees are the lifeblood of any business.