Incidents happen, and usually due to workplace hazards that have not been identified. As an employer, you need to make sure you have identified all of your hazards in order to avoid possible incidents.
An incident plan is needed, and by plan, we mean a detailed list of procedures and processes that every employee must know and follow in case of an incident or emergency. This plan also needs to make all employees aware of the common safety hazards, how they can be prevented and reported, if necessary.
Not only will this make staff feel part of the solution, but also feel more secure in their job and the company’s vision. If anything, hazards have legal implications, so the more you plan and prevent incidents from happening, the better off your company is in the long term. Having an incident plan in place is really a win-win for all. Let’s start by looking at some common workplace hazards and how they can be prevented.
5 common workplace hazards and how to prevent them:
Slips, trips, and falls (most common workplace hazard)
This is by far one of the most common workplace hazards and one that companies get “tripped” up by quite often. Wet floors, loose cables, uneven paving – the list is endless and sometimes pretty obvious. The good news is that they can be prevented in most cases. If you ignore the signs and you could end up with a workplace lawsuit on your hands.
Most slips, trips and falls can be prevented if workplace safety regulations are followed properly. It is the responsibility of employers to make sure that employees are working in a safe environment. Make sure you identify and respond to potential workplace hazards, eg: clean up spills immediately, put equipment (especially cables) back where they belong, improve lighting, repair damaged floor surfaces and make slip-resistant footwear mandatory (and supply them) if your workplace has slippery floors.
Fire and Explosions workplace hazards
You don’t have to work at an ammunition plant to experience this hazard. Workplace hazards like explosions and fires are often caused by faulty gas lines or leaks, improperly installed electrical cables or stored combustible materials and open flames. While these accidents only account for 3% per cent of workplace incidents, they have the highest casualty rate, making them a top priority by anyone’s standards.
Make sure you have fire extinguishers throughout the building and conduct proper maintenance on all fire-fighting equipment. Fire alarms and detectors should become a workplace standard, as should fire drills. Make sure your staff know where and what to do in case of a fire. Check that all gas and flammable equipment are correctly installed and stored. Keep safety instructions and material safety data sheets near all chemicals and potential explosives. Electrical equipment not in use should be switched off.
Repetitive Stress Injuries workplace hazards
Muscular stress injuries caused by lifting heavy objects, repetitive movement and other work-induced injuries, are the most common and costly of all the workplace hazards, accounting for 40% of “time off” work. At best, this workplace hazard affects productivity. At worse, it causes serious injury to employees, so it’s worth knowing the most common repetitive stress injuries related to working in your business and industry.
Many injuries can be avoided by training employees to complete tasks in the best possible way to avoid strains and injuries. Other simple techniques to ensure workplace safety includes, making sure employees take regular breaks away from their workstations. Bringing in wellness programmes like mindfulness, meditation or yoga classes can go a long way to keeping staff limber and injury free.
Electrical workplace hazards
Our workplaces are “wired” spaces, which makes them a hotspot for electrical workplace hazards. Any voltage over 50 volts AC (120 volts DC) is considered hazardous and should be treated with respect. Any “live” wires can harm people, whether touched directly or indirectly through a conducting material. Faulty electrical appliances can also lead to fires, while shocks can cause severe or permanent injuries.
Make sure you follow the basic electrical safety steps, including maintaining all electrical installations, choosing the right equipment for the job and replace or repair any faulty or damaged equipment. Do regular equipment inspections.
Vehicle-Related workplace hazards
Vehicles, no matter how many or what kind, invite accidents. From being struck by a car or objects falling from one to falling from a vehicle, the hazards are many and worth planning for.
Only authorised employees are allowed to operate any kind of vehicle, all operators are to have a valid licence before operating the vehicle, make sure all employees have received and understand your company’s vehicle policy. Do regular maintenance and vehicle inspections.
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Absolute Health Services (AHS) offer accredited Health and Safety (H&S) training, ensuring that our clients receive current, professional and quality training. All our training instructors are paramedics registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa, and have extensive practical operational experience and have specialised in First Aid, Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), Fire fighting and H&S training. Our training courses contain the latest theoretical course content and extensive practical content and scenario training, thereby ensuring both theoretical and practical exposure. Our intention is to establish a national Health and Safety training network and footprint, enabling our clients to access our training network anywhere in the country. We know that without the support of our clients our business would not exist, so we are committed to offering a professional, client-focussed, high quality and cost-effective service.