Common Hazards in the Workplace

Published by Marshall & Gibson Lawyers on the 11 January 2014

You probably understand the huge costs of many workplace health and safety hazards. By taking the appropriate precautions, it is possible to prevent many of these hazards.

There is no denying that some hazards are less likely to be an issue in the workplace you provide than in other workplaces. However, it is vital to determine the hazards that pose most risk to your business and your employees.

Most common health and safety hazards in workplaces:

  • Communicable diseases
  • Accidents related to transportation
  • Violent acts in the workplace
  • Slips and falls
  • Toxic events (especially exposure to gases and chemicals)
  • Being struck by objects
  • Explosion or electrocution
  • Injuries related to repetitive motion and ergonomic problems
  • Loss of hearing.

Why focus on hazards?

When steps are taken to prevent the health and safety hazards in the workplaces that you provide, it is obvious that the risk of injury and illness to workers is reduced. Injuries and illness can also hinder continuity, compromise the welfare of your employees and cause significant loss of time and money.

Comprehensive, insightful and informed planning can help you to forestall many of these problems and issues.

Ways to avoid the most common health and safety hazards in the workplace

  • Maintain continuity:  Some employers offer flexible working arrangements or ensure that other workers are trained to carry on with specific tasks if particular workers are sick, injured or otherwise unable to work.
  • Ensure you are prepared: Job hazard analysis and risk mapping are pivotal to thorough preparation against workplace health and safety risks. Essentially, these processes demand that you step back and examine sites and facilities without being committed to routines and hazards previously overlooked.
  • Prevent fatalities: When your employees drive or are on the roads in the course of their work, a huge risk to their health, safety and well-being exists. Driving fatalities are a huge issue, particularly when people are overworked, sleep deprived and use their mobile phones. Taking steps to make working hours predictable, regular and family-friendly is a positive move towards addressing and overcoming these issues.

Specific preventative responses to common workplace hazards

  • Risk of fire: Fire is a risk for all businesses and it is important that your workers know the location of fire extinguishers, practise what to do in a fire drill situation and have knowledge of emergency escape routes.
  • Injuries caused by repetitive use or actions:  An increased risk of repetitive injury exists when your workers perform the same actions, over and over again. The risk of injury to these employees can be reduced by ensuring that they take sufficient breaks away from their work.
  • Accidental falls and falling objects:  Workers that carry out their work at a great height have an increased risk of falling and storage of items above head level means that a significant risk of injury exists, because of the risk of falling objects. To mitigate these risks, your workers should be encouraged (or better still, required) to wear protective gear, such as: hard hats and harnesses. Guardrails should also be available and perhaps even a safety net installed. Your employees should be instructed on the safe use of all equipment.

With thought and planning, a safer workplace can be created by reducing the most common risks to health, safety and wellbeing.