How safe and healthy is your place of work? Even if your employer bends over backward and tries to do everything within their power to provide a safe working environment, there is still a lot that can go wrong.
The chances are that if a safety inspector ever turns up at your offices, factory, or another workspace, they will find a huge range of dangers and health risks. With this in mind, here’s a heads up on some of the biggest health hazards in every workplace – read on to make sure you are aware of everything that could go wrong!
Working at heights
It isn’t much of a surprise that people who work high up off the ground are often most at risk from an accident. And if you do fall from a roof or tall installation, there is a good chance you will end up in a critical condition – almost 1.5 out of every falls from a height will result in a fatality.
It’s a big problem – particularly on building sites., and if you were to ask any construction accident lawyer, they would all tell you the same thing: many employers do not have a written fall protection procedure or process in place. If you do any work on a ladder or on a roof, make sure you are always wearing the correct protection gear and use a hooking system every time you go up. And that advice applies even if your boss doesn’t enforce it!
Messy work spaces
Ultimately, we are all responsible for the safety of everyone else we work with. I’ve been through a few of the things everyone should be doing to ensure their own safety while working, but one of the biggest issues needs repeating here – improve your basic housekeeping.
Slips, trips, and falls are the most major causes of accidents, and some even result in fatalities. The cause? Often, it is all down to messy workplaces and people not tidying up after themselves. Clutter blocking walkways and emergency exits, boxes left beneath workstations, overstocked shelving – they can all result in incredibly nasty injuries.
We all seem to take electricity for granted these days, and will happily load up extension cables to plug in our devices – maybe even daisy chaining with other cable extensions. While on a temporary basis, it isn’t likely to cause any harm, if you are doing this on a regular basis it can be incredibly dangerous.
Circuits can overload, burnout, and result in an electrical fire – which could prove disastrous in an office full of paperwork and flammable devices that could explode. Not only that, but daisy chaining cables together and having messy wiring can be a violation. And the chances are that if you are responsible, your boss will hang you out to dry rather than pay an extortionate fine from the health and safety inspection teams.
In the event of an emergency, evacuation from the premises needs to be swift and concise in order to save lives and prevent injuries. Preventative measures like sprinklers and fire extinguishers can mean the difference between life and death. However many employers only put the bare minimum of precautions in place. This becomes a risk because precious time can be wasted trying to find an obscure fire exit. Fire extinguishers can expire or be the wrong type to deal with a fire. Sprinkler systems can also fail if not inspected on a regular basis.
It’s important to have a thoroughly planned emergency exit procedure in place with a proper ISO approved fire exit right sign and clear evacuation routes mapped. Fire extinguishers need to be appropriate for the risk you are dealing with (e.g. a CO2 fire extinguisher near a computer room for electrical fires) and checked to make sure they have not expired. Being prepared to handle an emergency will not just make you feel more at ease, it can prevent the worst outcome from happening.
Finally, there are chemicals in every workplace, not just high-tech scientific research labs. Cleaning products, for example, can often be incredibly dangerous to the health, with poisonous fumes and even burns a distinct possibility.
OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard requires all businesses to keep any chemical products locked away properly, in a safe place. You also need to ensure you wear the right protective clothing while using it. Sure, you might feel comfortable with handling basic cleaning products, but you have to be aware that they can cause you grave harm.