Identifying and Eliminating Hazards in your Workplace

12th March 2012

Hazards can be found everywhere in the workplace.

Some are quite apparent. Others are so small or seemingly ordinary that they're easily overlooked, and every worker can be placed at risk in some way. A workplace hazard denotes any kind of object or situation that could result in injury, disease or death. Some indicators are things we wouldn't immediately consider: Age, for instance. Young workers new on the job (age 16 - 25) have more of a chance of getting hurt than older, experienced workers. Another invisible hazard would involve experienced workers who use that same tool or equipment all day, every day. They may be at risk of repetitive strain injury. So employers, managers and supervisors need to develop the correct mindset to recognize hazards and take account of potential employee difficulties in carrying out tasks safely. The Major/Significant Hazards Many industries have workplace health and safety issues that are very specific. But some issues are common to almost every business. Workplace safety starts with knowing the major/significant hazards. These include: Physical hazards that involve equipment, machinery or tools Electrical hazards Chemical hazards that involve dust, fumes, vapours, gases or chemical mists Bio-hazards that involve bacteria, viruses, fungi, mould or plant material Watch Your Step The single biggest cause of injuries at any workplace is conditions that lead to slips, trips, and falls. These are the most frequent causes of non-fatal major injuries in both manufacturing and service industries. They comprise more than half of all reported injuries. Employers can help to reduce slip and trip hazards looking around the workplace to spot uneven floors, electrical cables, and areas where spillages may occur. Ways to Reduce such Risks Include: Cleaning up spills immediately after they occur Positioning equipment to avoid cables crossing pedestrian routes Keeping walkways clear of rubbish and other debris Securing all rugs and mats so that they won't move and their edges won't curl Providing handrails, floor markings and signage in areas where the flooring slopes Making sure workers have the correct footwear for the workplace Other Specific Workplace Hazards Include: Moving vehicles such as forklifts Collapsing platforms or equipment Confined-space work areas Falling objects Workplace violence Ensure High Standards for Safety: Every employer has an ethical and legal duty to set a high standard of workplace safety. As part of this, they should look around the work place and ask themselves questions about the environment: Who comes into the workplace and how would they be at risk? Are the precautions already in place? Is there adequate management and supervision? An effective safety programme involves: Promoting safe work practices as part of the company's work policies Keeping and maintaining all tools and machinery in a safe condition Ensuring that all internal facilities, including toilets and washrooms also eating areas and rest/mess-rooms are clean and hygienic Providing suitable and sufficient: information, instruction training and supervision for all workers Involving workers and supervisors in all decisions relating to health and safety Designating a safety supervisor for all work areas Conducting regular safety meetings

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