7 Common Workplace Safety Hazards
Just like safety issues in the home, such as maintaining electrical appliances and protecting children from hazardous materials, a workplace needs adequate maintenance and protection to keep employees safe. Sensitive problems such as bullying can be addressed by training and the implementation of proactive management policies, but other common health and safety hazards that can have a serious physical impact need to be addressed by supplying the correct safety equipment. Here is a quick guide to what employers should be aware of to ensure workplace safety.
When employees have to handle harmful or dangerous chemicals as part of their work, to stay safe, they must wear protective clothing, including specially treated gloves. It is also essential that any potentially harmful substances are labelled, and the correct signage is in place to warn of workplace hazards.
- Confined spaces
The Confined Spaces Regulations 1997 are intended to protect workers from unsafe work practices. As an employer, you need to ensure a safe work system is in place should it be necessary for anyone to enter a confined space in the workplace. That system is likely to include enforcing restricted entry policies and posting appropriate warning signs.
Electrical safety is an important issue in workplaces; especially where there is a risk that heavy-duty equipment might cause electric shocks. Warning signs must be in place, and information about how to treat victims of electric shock should be readily available.
Remember that extension leads may also be a safety hazard and use only surge-protected types in your workplace.
Forklift trucks are used in warehouses and yards for moving heavy loads from one area to another; they are also capable of inflicting serious injury unless safety guidelines are followed. Most responsible employers use floor signs to ensure drivers and pedestrians are aware when forklifts are operating in a particular area, as well as floor tape and wall signs to demarcate areas where forklifts are not permitted.
- Lockout or tagout
Using a lockout or tagout procedure ensures machinery is properly shut down after use and will not be operated again until it is safe to do so. It’s important to pay attention to lockout systems and procedures, as countless accidents occur every year when these are not implemented. Use high visibility lockout tags to indicate who is authorised to use machinery and when.
- Poor housekeeping
Your home is kept free from hazards by good housekeeping practices: spills are mopped up promptly to prevent slips and falls, visible dirt is cleaned away, and household waste is carefully disposed of. Those same principles apply to a workplace; so good housekeeping is an essential component of minimising accidents at work. It’s important to warn employees and customers when floors have been recently cleaned and may still be wet, or when cleaners are at work on-site dealing with waste.
- Working at height
Specialist equipment has made a great difference to the safety of employees who have to work at height. You can now source platforms with handrails, bespoke safety helmets and kits for roofers, so there’s no excuse for unsafe working practices that could cause harm.