There are 10 hazards in the workplace that may cause damage to ourselves or others. It is important to have a workplace that is safe because it improves workers’ morale; it introduces a health and safety policy as well as a health and safety plan; it keeps employees aligned to positive safety culture; hazards are easily identified and reported by everyone; employees and employers are all involved; it builds trust and encourages engagement.
The following are health and safety requirements in the workplace:
Workplace health and safety inspections at specific intervals that will identify workplace hazards; risk assessments to be conducted as these are also a legal requirement; health and safety file; 37.2 agreement; health and safety policies and procedures; ohs management plan; safe working procedures; legal appointments; letter of good standing and copy of the act.
10 hazards in the workplace
The occupational health and safety act dictates that every employer must provide a safe working environment, with representatives from both employer and employees. The following are 10 common workplace hazards:
1. Slips and falls at work and falling objects
Slips and falls at work and falling objects might happen in a storeroom where materials are improperly stacked too high and not supported, risking falling and injuring an employee who might be in the area at the time of the incident.
Slippery floors must have anti-slip strips. Where cleaning is taking place and the area becomes slippery, then a caution sign must be used to warn people in the area about the tripping hazard or slippery floor.
2. Electrical accidents
Most electrical accidents are caused by misuse from employees or unsafe equipment. If employees are properly trained in the correct use of electrical equipment and electricity and they clearly understand electrical hazards, then their attitude towards electrical safety changes.
Regular inspections of electrical equipment can prevent electrical accidents
3. Machinery and tool hazards
Machinery hazards can include contact with hot or sharp equipment, entanglement of hair or clothing and sparks from grinding.
Tools and machinery must be well maintained and have appropriate guards where necessary. Machine operators must make sure that they inspect tools and machinery before use and put it back where it safely belongs when not in use.
If a fire breaks out it can cost a company a lot of money including loss of lives.
The preventative measures that must be put in place are: regular inspections and recording of high-risk areas i.e. waste collection points; safe and clear means of escape i.e. lighting, signage and evacuation routes; electrical safety and electrical compliance certifications. Regular servicing and maintenance of existing controls systems must take place to reduce the fire risk.
5. Chemical hazards
Exposure to dangerous chemicals can cause eye irritations and skin burns, if inhaled can cause damage to the respiratory tract and if ingested can cause nausea and vomiting.
Before using chemicals, employees must be trained in their safe use, as well as first aid in case of an emergency.
Preventative measures: engineering control i.e. ensure that the workplace is adequately ventilated; maintenance of containers, valves and hoses; safe working procedures, i.e. eating, drinking and smoking should not be allowed near hazardous chemicals.
6. Lack of protective gear
Employees must be trained in the correct use of protective gear (PPE) and once issued they must use it at all times to protect themselves. They must understand that working without PPE where it is necessary, can expose them to danger and might end up affecting the future of the organisation or their health. If the PPE is defective, then it is their responsibility to report it to their manager or employer.
7. Ergonomic hazards
Ergonomics are all about the relationship between a worker and their workplace or equipment they use. Safe systems of work need to be designed where a job involves repetitive work like stretching, twisting or bending.
If the employer implements a good ergonomic programme, it will be beneficial to both employer and employees because it reduces musculoskeletal injuries and or illness; reduces absenteeism; improves production; reduces equipment damage and improves employee comfort. A machine should be designed in such a way that the operator is comfortable but still able to safely operate controls by hand and foot; there should be adequate clearance of the operator’s body and auditory signals to warn others in the workplace.
8. Confined spaces
This describes a limited or restricted working area. Before entering a confined space, employees must be properly briefed regarding what they are going to be faced with. Working in a confined space is only permitted when the relevant safe working procedures are followed. Work is not permitted until the necessary training and permits have been issued as well as understanding the procedures to be followed.
9. Machinery collisions
Accidents do happen but can be prevented by making sure that all operators of machinery are properly trained and competent to operate such machinery. Inspections are carried out by operators prior to the use of machinery and all faults to be reported to the authorised person. Machinery must also be maintained according to the manufacturer’s specifications. SWP’s and supervision of workers at all times.
In some working environments like factories, noise hazards cannot be eliminated, therefore the employer must limit the employees’ exposure by controlling noise at the source, along the path between the source and the worker, and at the worker. Employees must receive proper training of how to use the PPE they’ve received from work so that noise can be controlled by wearing the correct type of PPE. Note: wearing earplugs of muffs is always the last resort.
Absolute Health Services is an accredited health and safety training provider that offers a Hazard Identification Risk Assessment course. This course can help the employer and employees work together on a programme that aims to protect the wellbeing of not only the employees and employer, but also the client or contractors using the workplace. After this course the delegate will get a better understanding on how to identify hazards and be able to perform a risk assessment confidently. Once that is understood, health and safety practices in the workplace can be actioned.