As an employer, it’s your responsibility to provide a safe and healthy work environment. That means establishment of an effective safety and health program customized to the needs of your facility.
When was the last time you reviewed your company’s overall workplace safety program? Do you have safety processes and procedures for all types of workplace safety hazards?
Sometimes, we may not even think of something as common as an extension cord running across an open area as a hazard, but one of your workers can trip over it and injure him/herself.
Workplace Safety Hazards to Plan For
Safety hazards are the most common and typically refer to unsafe work conditions. Does your workplace safety program need to cover any of the following?
- Slip, trip and fall hazards (such as extension cords).
- Working from heights, such as ladders, scaffolds and roofs, requires a fall protection program that should be monitored on a regular basis.
- Unguarded machinery and moving machine parts.
- Electrical hazards (frayed cords, improper wiring).
- Permit required confined spaces.
- Lockout/tagout and other machinery-related hazards.
Biological hazards may be found in places such as day care facilities, colleges, universities, hospitals, laboratories, emergency response occupations, nursing homes and outdoor worksites. These are places where your workers can get exposed to things such as:
- Blood and/or body fluids
- Bacteria and viruses
- Insect bites
- Animal and bird feces
Physical hazards are factors within the environment that can harm your workers without necessarily any kind of contact.
- Radiation (EMFs, microwaves, radiowaves)
- Exposure to sunlight and/or ultraviolet rays
- Extreme temperatures
- Constant loud noise
Ergonomic hazards put a strain on the body, which may result in sore muscles in the near-term but can ultimately result in serious long-term injuries. Ergonomic injuries can be caused by:
- Improperly adjusted workstations and chairs
- Frequent lifting
- Poor posture
- Awkward movements
- Repetitive movements
Chemical hazards are related to any chemical preparation in the workplace; even common solutions can cause skin irritation or breathing problems.
- Cleaning products, paints, solvents
- Vapors and fumes from welding or exposure to solvents
- Gases like propane, carbon monoxide
- Flammable materials and/or explosive chemicals
Lastly, don’t forget about your employees’ health and wellness. Work Organization hazards affect that, resulting in stress and strain to the body from things such as:
- Workplace violence
- Social support
- Sexual harassment
Have you reviewed OSHA’s top ten list of frequently cited standards? This is a great list to help guide your workplace safety program, too.