Workplace hazards are a common cause of numerous accidents, injuries, or ill health. Workplace safety only seems to capture attention when something extremely goes wrong. When a disastrous event or fatal accident occurs, the focus eventually turns to determine workplace safety gaps leading to that particular incident.
This makes it vital for employers within the business, workplace, or organization to make a systematic approach to conducting safe work activities.
This content piece will explain how to assess and recognize the risks in the workplace that can cause fatal injuries and ways to prevent them.
What are Hazards?
If you are unfamiliar with risk management, it is important to understand the difference between a hazard and a risk to implement vital control measures at the workplace.
Hazards are the factors that have the potential to cause harm or ill health to anyone including workers, site visitors, or the general public.
The sources or hazard triggers might include potentially dangerous equipment, heavy machinery, or dangerous chemicals, they have the potential to cause health and safety risks.
The responsible persons within any workplace have a legal duty to assess and identify hazards at their workplaces and whatever steps necessary to protect their staff.
According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there are nearly 5,333 work-related deaths in 2019. On average, nearly 15 deaths each day. Nearly 1.061 worker fatalities in private industry were seen in that year.
The topmost accidents or hazards occurring at the workplace include falls from height, slips, trips, and falls injuries, manual handling injuries, exposure to hazardous chemicals and materials, strains, sprains, or fatigues, and many others like these.
Common Workplace Hazards
Hazards can be of different forms within any work environment. But some common hazards can be found in almost every workplace or organization:
- Hazardous substances
- Lone working
- Electrical hazards
- Manual handling
- Slips, trips, and falls
- Workplace stress
- Violence and aggression
These hazards are divided into common hazard categories as below:
Physical hazards are any kind of hazards that can result in any physical injuries, illnesses, or deaths. These hazards may include temperature, noise, radiation, or air quality.
Any type of hazards related to the equipment or tools on a worksite. Safety hazards also include slips, trips, and falls hazards.
Any type of hazard linked to chemicals or hazardous substances is known as a chemical hazard. These can result in severe injuries, illnesses, or even death.
Type of hazards involving a person's role including lifting equipment or computer-related work
How to Recognize Hazards in the Workplace?
Identifying the hazards not just includes spotting them, but also making a note of what might cause harm to the workers or the workplace.
Below are some of the effective approaches to recognizing workplace hazards:
Inspect the Workplace for any Hazards
Inspecting the workplace is the most important step to recognizing any workplace hazard. Some hazards are visible at work, but it is difficult to spot a lot of them. A proper inspection can help make the hazard identification process easy.
Collect Existing Information About the Hazards
Gathering information about the hazards that already exist on-site is also an effective way to identify and mitigate the hazards at work. This can be done by looking at multiple aspects like conducting an adequate risk assessment to spot and find such workplace hazards.
Identifying the risks at work is not one person's job. It requires the active involvement of everyone to recognize, control, and mitigate them. Employers must talk to their employees regarding safety concerns and find ways that can help both parties create a secure environment.
Review & Examine the Equipment
Another way to recognize any hazard is by examining and inspecting the work equipment. Employers and workers can view the instruction manual to use the equipment, this helps them understand the potential hazards that might come up with specific equipment.
Investigate Accidents & Injuries
Employers must also regularly keep on looking back at their health and safety records, to keep a check on previous accidents, injuries, or ill health. This will help them understand the safety measures implemented within their workplaces and how to deal with a hazardous situation.
Manage Hazards Effectively at Work
It is often seen that hazards are identifiable in some workplaces easily, but how employers manage their workplaces and organizations to prevent their staff members is the ultimate thing to create and maintain a safe workplace for all to live and work.
It is not always possible to eradicate risk from the workplace completely. However, managers and employers must have adequate control measures in place to manage them. Providing training to the staff is one of the ways to mitigate workplace accidents and hazards.
There are numerous options to train and equip employees like accident investigation training, that can help them understand the what and why of accidents at work and how effective techniques can mitigate the risk.
Workplace hazards are a common health and safety concern in almost every work environment. Those responsible for creating and maintaining a safe workplace must have adequate knowledge on identifying any issue that could potentially cause harm. This blog post explained some of them.