Every workplace is unique, and this means it comes with unique safety hazards. Many businesses find themselves overlooking workplace safety hazards, and this is where employees or visitors can get hurt. The problem is, many organizations don't know what hazards they have.
Over the years, our talented team has compiled several common workplace hazards that we find repeated over and over again. Below are our top 7 most overlooked safety hazards.
Think of all of the electrical work most businesses have. Lighting, computers, phone systems, and more all depend on power cords. Unfortunately, misusing electrical cords can result in huge hazards, and many people don't even realize it. They plug too many items into one outlet, or they use damaged and frayed cords.
Improper use increases the chances of fire, and a fire can devastate a business. During a safety evaluation, an auditor will look at every electrical line and outlet to make sure they're in proper working order. If they're not, it's time to replace them.
2. Slip and Trip
Slipping or tripping is a huge liability for any business, and the hazards causing a fall are easy to overlook. With so many people going in, out, and around a business, it can be difficult to keep the floor areas clear.
Common causes for people tripping and slipping include:
long unsecured cables on the floor
damaged, contaminated and uneven floor surfaces
To reduce the risk of someone falling at your business, it's important to pay attention to these common slip and trip causes and to remedy the issue immediately.
Businesses must have fall training policies for their staff. These requirements should get updated regularly, but many businesses fall behind. If the business has a high turnover, it can be difficult to continually train all of the new staff. This increases the risks for falls.
If a business regularly uses ladders or scaffolding, improper training or careless working environments increases the risk for falls. In the event someone were to fall from high up due to negligence on the business's part, this could set the business up for a lawsuit.
Any businesses or entities that use heavy machinery have a higher risk of one or more workplace safety hazard issues. Staff members that operate machinery should have proper certification, and this isn't always the case. Forklifts, machine guards, and industrial machines all need training and certification to be used safely.
Additionally, each staff member should have the property training to ensure they don't misuse the equipment. Improper use of the equipment commonly results in injury. Depending on the machinery, these injuries can be significant, and the injured party would be entitled to treatment under workers' compensation. This can cost the business thousands.
5. Lockout or Tagout
Having proper lockout and tagout procedures in place is crucial to prevent workplace injuries, but these only work if properly written and if the employees know and adhere to these safety measures.
When lockout and tagout requirements aren't followed, an unexpected release of hazardous energy – like electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal, or other sources – can happen during the servicing and maintenance of equipment. As a result of improper lockout and tagout controls, employees can be badly injured or even killed.
Chemicals can wreak havoc on businesses and hurt employees if they don't have the proper documentation. Every chemical should have a tracking sheet, and an assigned employee(s) should regularly take inventory and remove any expired or defective containers.
Chemical data sheets tell employees how to work safely with the chemicals and potential hazards that come with having and working with the chemical. Many businesses don't have these sheets available, or they don't tell their employees where to get them.
7. Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)
Personal protection equipment is essential to give employees the tools they need to shield themselves if something were to happen like a chemical spill or in the event of an infectious disease. The PPE has to be regularly updated, swapped out for new models, or replaced after it's used.
One problem that comes up in our audits is that businesses don't have an adequate supply of respiratory protection like masks, eye protection like goggles or face shields, or gloves. If they do, they're out of date. The businesses have to have a policy in place and someone in charge of monitoring it that outlines what to do with PPE.
As with anything, prevention is much better than trying to fix a hazard after someone gets hurt.
Safety is good business for your company! According to OSHA, "an effective safety and health program can save $4 to $6 for every $1 invested." This financial savings is huge for businesses of any size, and it is wise to take advantage of it by spending a little more upfront on safety prevention.
Train your staff on all of the policies and procedures you have, double-check licenses and certifications, and offer ongoing training. This list of workplace safety hazards is by no means exhaustive, and it requires an experienced safety consulting firm like D & D Safety to help identify them.
If you'd like to set up an audit for safety hazards in your business, contact the professional and reliable experts at D & D Safety. We're ready to perform a comprehensive audit of your potential workplace safety hazards help you create a plan to keep your employees, clients, and the general public safe.