It may sound like an obvious question but what constitutes a hazard in the workplace?
Many hazards aren’t blatantly obvious and when we think of a potential danger at work we normally conjure up a physical or chemical hazard. The reality is that many things at work can be dangerous to us so it is helpful to identify the basics of what a hazard is in the workplace.
Risk assessments remain vitally important to the safety of everyone at work and recognising hazards whether physical or not is the key to maintain a healthy environment.
Physical Hazards at Work
These are the most obvious hazards and the make up the majority of dangers in any work environment from an office to a construction site.
Wet walkways, exposed wires, items dangling precariously or heavy machinery are all potential hazards. They key to mitigating any possible injuries or accidents is to make sure a risk assessment is carried out.
Remember that even though a physical object such as machinery or a tool might not seem like a hazard at first however is it is operated by someone who isn’t experienced or doesn’t have the proper training then it can turn into a very real danger. This brings us onto our next point…
People Can Be Hazards Too
Without the right training then staff can be more dangerous than physical objects.
In fact, employee’s that don’t take health and safety seriously, practice unsafe actions at work or simply aren’t aware that what they are doing is a breach of safety procedure and accounts for a large number of accidents in the workplace.
The solution is to keep on top of health and safety training for staff, ensure that a culture of safety is promoted at work and also that any concerns are addressed right away.
Think About Long Term Hazards
Finally, when we picture hazards in the workplace we don’t also look at the long-term ramifications of our actions or the environments that we work in.
For example, a noisy workplace can result in hearing issues for staff if protective equipment isn’t provided. The same is true of being exposed to chemical or biological elements. While it might be safe in small doses or for a short period of time, repeated or prolonged exposure may impact the health of that employee in the long term.
Hazards in the workplace and health and safety in general is not just a ‘here and now’ thing, instead it should be viewed from a long-term lens too.
What Constitutes A Hazard In The Workplace?
Keeping everyone safe at work isn’t easy however the first stage is identifying hazards and then taking precautions to limit the potential impact they may have.
Ensuring that your staff are sufficiently trained to operate equipment, recognise issues on their own and also work in a safe manner is important too. Health and safety training and coaching should be a continual process and not just a one-off event.
Workplace hazards might not also be obvious however if you take the right steps then the chances of accidents and injuries occurring is low.