It’s that time of year for tricks and treats and spooky fun. While your employees are indulging in scary stories of the boogieman and enjoying the fright of a haunted house, they probably aren’t thinking about the many things haunting your workplace. Your employees may be plagued by accidents and injuries caused by dangers hidden in your workplace.
They may not be noticeable, but they are there. Here are five most common dangers haunting almost every workplace. Knowing to look for these risks, and learning how to eliminate them, is a great way to help improve the overall safety of any facility. In addition, make sure you take the time to look through your facility for any signs of other types of hazards, and always remember to ask the employees for insight into this as well.
Safety performance decreases as workers become fatigued. In a study by the National Safety Council, 69% of employees in safety-critical industries reported being tired at work. An over-worked, over-tired condition has become the norm for many. But a good night’s sleep is not just a novelty, it’s a necessity. The effects of fatigue are far-reaching and can have an adverse impact on all areas of our lives.
Some signs of fatigue include, but are not limited to tired eyes, stiff shoulders, weakness, lack of motivation, headaches, drowsiness, irritability, and impaired judgement. Workplaces can help by providing environments which have good lighting, comfortable temperatures, and reasonable noise levels. Work tasks should provide a variety of interest and tasks should change throughout the shift. Awareness education and training about the implications of fatigue, the importance of sleep, balanced diet and exercise, and alertness strategies can also be helpful.
Poor indoor air quality can lead to a host of health issues including headaches, eye irritation, rashes, sinus and respiratory problems, and worse. Some common air pollutants are:
- Biological: bacteria, viruses, fungi, dust mites, animal dander, legionella, and pollen
- Chemical: carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, nitrogen dioxide, other gasses and vapors
- Particle: dirt, dust, drywall dust, silica, concrete dust, other solid or liquid, non-biological hazards suspended in the air.
Employers should regularly monitor employees and be mindful of any cases of illness as a result of poor air quality. Employers should noted any unpleasant smells, visible leaks, or water spots, and record any health symptoms that could be associated with the occurrence.
One of the most common workplace safety hazards is a lack of proper lighting. This is because many facilities have very high ceilings, which makes it hard to get the right amount of light into the right areas. In addition, there are often machines and other items that block the light and lead to ‘dark spots’ where it can be difficult to see.
Having consistent lighting throughout the facility will help minimize the risk of people tripping or walking into dangerous areas.
Repetitive motion, improper lifting, sitting too long, or straining to reach objects are some of the most common causes of injury in the workplace. To address poor ergonomics, workers need to be trained about proper lifting and movement techniques and about good posture. They should check their own work areas and tools and make sure to alert management of anything that causes strain or pain, or is overly tiring.
In addition to reporting physically stressful workstations and tools, your staff can take matters into their own hands by being mindful about how they move, stand, and sit. Posted notes in their work area with reminders can help. Workers can also set a timer to buzz every twenty to thirty minutes to remind them to move or rest, and stretch.
Not Reporting Near Misses
Near miss incidents are those occurrences when an employee has avoided an accident or noticed something that could cause an injury but was able to bypass it. No one is hurt in the incident, so they may be attempted to write it off as “no harm, no foul.” However, by not reporting the near miss incident, they may be inadvertently creating an accident waiting to happen.
Safety professionals should encourage their employees to report near miss incidents. Tracking near misses, determining how and why they occurred, and taking corrective action can prevent more serious incidents from happening in the future.
Take all reports of safety problems seriously and responding to them quickly. By minimizing the number of dangers haunting your workplace, you can keep your workplace operating as safely as possible.