Workplace Safety: Recognizing and Eliminating Hazards
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 is 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 15-24) have more of a chance of getting hurt than older, experienced workers. Another invisible hazard would involve experienced workers who use that same tool all day, every day. They're susceptible to repetitive strain injury.
So employers and floor supervisors need to develop the proper mindset to recognize hazards.
The Major Hazards
Many facilities have workplace health and safety issues that are specific to their own industry. But some issues are common to almost every business. Workplace safety starts with knowing the major hazards. These include:
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 (Absorbents, Spill Kits)
- Positioning equipment to avoid cables crossing pedestrian routes (Facility Protection)
- Keeping walkways clear of rubbish and other debris (Waste Receptacles )
- Securing all rugs and mats so that they won't move and their edges won't curl (Floor Safety)
- Providing handrails, floor markings and signage in areas where the flooring slopes (Plant Safety)
- Making sure workers have the proper footwear for the workplace (Safety Boots, Footwear)
Other specific workplace hazards include:
- Moving vehicles such as forklifts
- Collapsing platforms or equipment
- Confined-space work areas
- Falling objects
- Workplace violence
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Raise the Safety Bar High
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?
An effective safety program involves:
- Promoting safe work practices as part of the company's work policies
- Keeping all tools and machinery in a safe condition
- Ensuring that all internal facilities, including bathrooms and eating areas, are clean and germ-free
- Providing information, training and supervision for all workers
- Involving workers and supervisors in all decisions relating to health and safety
- Designating a safety supervisor for all facility areas
- Conducting regular safety meetings
by Dan Harvey - safety.com
Questions & Answers
Q: What are some reccommended suggestions for a successful safety program?
A: There are several suggestions that an employer can implement for an effective safety program:
1. Promote safe work practices as part of the company's work policies.
2. Keep all tools and machinery in a safe condition
3. Ensure that all internal facilities, including bathrooms and eating areas, are clean and germ-free
4.Provide information, training and supervision for all workers
5. Involve workers and supervisors in all decisions relating to health and safety
6. Designate a safety supervisor for all facility areas
7. Conduct regular safety meetings
Please Note: The information contained in this publication is intended for general information purposes only. This publication is not a substitute for review of the applicable government regulations and standards, and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the cited regulation or consult with an attorney.