Types of Hazards in the Workplace

Types of Hazards
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Keeping a safe workplace requires employers to identify and deal with hazards. Each industry has its own set of hazards, but there are workplace hazards that are common across organizations. The hazards in this module are examples of typical hazards. By identifying and anticipating hazards, employers can prevent injuries and keep employees safe.

Computer Workstations

Computer workstations may seem harmless, but repetitive motion injuries such as carpal tunnel and muscular skeletal problems are common due to badly engineered workstations. The elements of a computer workstation need to be set up so that the body remains in a safe, neutral position and injuries are minimized. These elements include: desks, monitors, keyboards, chairs, mouse, telephones, document holders, and wrist pads. There should be enough room in the workstation to move around and take short breaks from tedious tasks.

Basic Setup

Room between the desk and chair so legs are not trapped

Chair supports the lower back

Feet are flat on the floor

Top of the monitor is eye level

The head and neck are level and aligned with the torso

Shoulders are relaxed

Elbows are supported

There is room for the mouse and keyboard

The wrists and hands are lined up with the forearms

Ergonomics

We briefly discussed ergonomics with computer workstations. Ergonomics, in general, is used to make the demands of a job suit the needs of the workers. The science of ergonomics will increase productivity while decreasing injuries in the workplace. Employees are at risk of injury when they engage in repetitive motions, heavy lifting, pushing, carrying, or working with their hands. There are ergonomic standards for each industry. It is essential that employees be trained in proper ergonomics so that they are aware of how injuries can be prevented.

Ergonomic Tips:

Bend from the knees.

Lift with your legs.

Take breaks.

Exercise.

Keep weight evenly distributed when seated and standing.

Fire Prevention

Fires can happen anywhere. Every organization needs to invest in fire prevention. The common causes of workplace fires are arson, cigarettes, and electrical fires. Every employer needs to train employees how to prevent fires and act when they do occur.

Tips to Prevent Fires:

Keep the building clean and clear of debris.

Make sure that alarms and other safety equipment are in working order.

Keep fire doors closed.

Do not smoke in areas not designated for smoking, and handle lighters and matches carefully.

Teach employees to use fire extinguishers.

Implement an evacuation plan.

Fitness and Wellness

More employers are taking steps to improve the health and fitness of their employees. It is in an employer’s best interest to invest in the wellness of employees. Healthy employees are more productive, take fewer sick days, and cost less in insurance premiums.

Ways to Improve Fitness and Wellness:

Keep healthy snacks at the office.

Offer to supplement gym memberships or have workout equipment at the office.

Support smoking cessation programs.

Promote nutrition and weight loss programs.

Heat Stress

Employees who work in extremely hot conditions are susceptible to heat stress. Heat stress includes heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat syncope, and heat cramps. Jobs particularly prone to heat stress are factory workers, bakers, miners, fire fighters, construction workers, etc. Heat stress can lead to injuries as people become disoriented or lose consciousness.

Ways to Prevent Heat Stress:

Drink water and refrain from caffeine.

Rest in cool locations.

Take frequent breaks.

Slowly acclimate to the heat.

Wear the appropriate clothing.

Stress

Most Americans identify work as their main cause of stress. Stress, even more than diet, is linked to obesity for workers in sedentary jobs, according to research published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Employee stress costs employers money in terms of lost time, productivity, and illness. It is important to teach employees how to manage their stress.

Ways to Fight Stress:

Eat well: Choose fruits and vegetables over salty snacks.

Exercise: This will help you focus as it releases endorphins.

Prioritize: Learn to manage time wisely and balance work and life.

Violence

Workplace violence accounts for one quarter of work related deaths. Employers are responsible for the safety of employees and a workplace violence prevention program will help to build awareness and save lives. Workplace violence prevention programs teach employees how to identify and diffuse conflicts; manage stress; manage anger; protect personal safety; respect diversity; and report problems.

How Employers Can Prevent Violence:

Screening: Use background checks and reference checks to hire stable individuals.

Security: Implement a security protocol.

Mediation: Help employees find ways to resolve disputes.

Balance: Create programs that will promote work and life balance.

Assess: Hire a threat assessment team to watch for potential violence.

More About Safety in The Workplace

Managers Role in Workplace Safety
Safety in the Workplace Training
Stress Management in the Workplace
Workplace Violence
Identifying your Company Hazards
Drug and Alcohol Abuse in the Workplace
Writing the Safety in the Workplace Plan
Implement the Safety in the Workplace Plan