Too many people get injured or die at work every year. Workers have the right to work in a safe environment.
A first step in having and maintaining a safe workplace is to inform workers of the dangers associated with their line of work. To educate workers, we must begin with identifying the most common workplace hazards.
1 – Unaware of surrounding – When distracted, workers are not always aware of their surroundings, causing them to trip, slip or fall.
When entering a room, workers should perform a visual survey to identify potential hazards before proceeding through the room. For example, they should look up for hanging obstacle or potentially falling objects.
They should look down for tripping hazards like boxes, extension cords, opened file cabinet drawers, or discarded objects. Finally, they should look around to identify incoming hazards, such as moving vehicles, people pushing carts or other things coming their way.
2 – Disregard for ergonomic factors – When performing a task that requires a worker to sit for long periods of time, some ergonomic factors must be observed.
Is the chair at the right height? Is it adjustable? The amount of support should be considered, as well as a place to rest one’s feet. If looking at a computer, consider the height, so the worker is not straining his eyes or his neck to read what is on the screen.
3 – Working with chemicals – If a worker must handle various chemical, it is essential he or she understands the dangers associated with each product and knows how to handle them safely.
If protective equipment is necessary to handle certain chemicals, it should be provided by the employer and worn by the worker.
4 – Electrical – too often, workers do not realize the dangers associated with electricity. Overloaded circuits or daisy chaining (plugging extension cords into power bars or into another extension cord) can cause electrical fires or shock hazard.
Long cords can become tripping hazards. In addition, electricity should never be mixed with water. Knowledge and understanding of protecting oneself when working around electrical hazards are essential to maintain workers’ safety.
5 – Height – working in higher spaces requires the use of appropriate step-ladders, ladders, lifts and fall restraints.
Too often, workers cut corners to finish a job faster and underestimate the dangers a fall from a higher structure entail. Therefore, it is important to remind workers to protect themselves by following all appropriate steps when working in places several feet off the ground.
6 – Defective machinery and equipment – Workers can easily get hurt if they use defective machinery or equipment that has been tampered with. For instance, a worker should nerve use a tool that no longer has a safeguard or that has been tagged out.
Regular inspections of machinery and equipment help maintain them in good working orders, thus preventing future accidents.
7 – Confined spaces – In some cases, workers must perform tasks in confined spaces or remote areas of a workplace. When this occurs, workers should use the proper equipment to enter the confined space, such as a hybrid lid lifter to access manholes, and let a co-worker know where they are and to check on them if they have not returned in a reasonable time.
Workplace accidents can easily be avoided when workers are aware of the hazards around them.