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A workplace hazard is defined as a situation that has the potential to harm life, health or equipment at work. Identifying and reducing the risks of hazards in the workplace is a very important task that needs to be carried out thoroughly to stop workplace hazards becoming an issue. There are many different types of workplace hazards, many won't be relevant to every type of workplace, but here are the 5 most common hazards that will be relevant to most places.
Mess and clutter that blocks fire exits, aisles and emergency exits can be a major workplace hazard. Blocking these areas could have major consequences in an emergency. Employees need to make sure that everything is put away in the correct place, and employers need to make sure that there is enough storage for everything so that items are not left out, blocking emergency exits and becoming a trip hazard.
Anyone who uses electrical equipment at work is at risk of injury. Whether it's working directly with electricity, or just working on a computer. To reduce the risk of injury, make sure that only one extension cord is used at a time. Stringing many together or 'daisy chaining' can cause electrical faults. Also making sure liquids are kept away from any electrical devices will help to reduce the likely hood of an accident. Running wires across the office floor creates a trip hazard. Wires should be kept away from thoroughfares and should be organised so that they are kept neat and are not left loose.
Fire is a huge risk to any business, no matter what industry it is in. There are around 25,000 fires in businesses in the U.K each year. That number is closer to 80,000 in the U.S. So it is important for business owners to do what they can to reduce the risk of a fire. Frequent fire drills should be arranged and employees should be trained on the locations of fire extinguishers and fire exits. Objects should not be stacked directly below sprinklers as this can reduce their effectiveness.
Having your desk equipment set up incorrectly may increase the chance of developing health problems. Take a look at the checklist below to make sure you have the perfect set up.
1. Arms - Make sure your elbows are level with the keyboard when you are sitting at your desk. This will position your wrists at the correct angle.
2. Feet & knees - Make sure that your feet are flat on the floor with your knees bent at a 90 degree angle. If you cannot achieve this you may need a footrest.
3. Head & neck - The top of your computer screen should be level with your eyes. The screen should be right in front of you and about an arm's length away when you are sitting in an upright position.
4. Overreaching - Make sure that items you use regularly such as your keyboard and phone are placed within easy reach to avoid overstretching.
If employees often work at elevated heights, they will be at risk of falling and getting injured. Employees should be provided with the correct safety equipment such as hard hats and harnesses and be trained to use the equipment safely. Objects that are stacked in elevated areas are at risk of falling and causing injuries. Employees should be trained to stack the items safely. Equipment such as guard rails and safety nets should be installed to reduce the chances of a workplace hazard.
There are many workplace hazards that have the potential to cause injury. Identifying these hazards is very important and is the responsibility of the employer to make sure the workplace is as safe as possible. Taking care of these 5 main hazards will greatly reduce the risk of a workplace accident. Carrying out a risk assessment should identify all of the risks associated with your place of work. Even though there may be many more potential hazards that could be identified, taking care of these top 5 will reduce the amount of the most common accidents making your workplace a much safer place to be.