Despite numerous guidelines, the workplace environment can still present hazards and it is always instructive for employers to undertake health and safety audits focusing on the most common safety hazards.
Trip and falls in the workplace can be caused by a number of factors. The risk can be minimised by making sure walkways and doorways are kept clear of objects or electrical wires, and making sure that all floor spillages are cleaned and dried as soon as possible. Another trip hazard is an uneven or unsuitable floor covering, such as lifting carpet tiles or steps that are not well lit.
Environmental hazards are ones that lower the quality of the workspace, such as poor air quality, or the environment being too hot or too cold for staff to work comfortably. One way to combat this is to use Integrated Air Systems that benefit the workspace by efficiently heating, cooling the air, or removing stale air or fumes and replacing it with fresh.
Noise is another environmental hazard that employers should take into consideration. While noise in the construction industry is well known, with workers having ear protectors in noisy environments, there can also be high levels of noise for office workers or drivers.
Other environmental hazards include contaminated waste, such as from chemicals or exposure to bodily fluids. Workplaces should have procedures in place for the safe management and disposal of such substances if staff are at risk.
These are hazards that are presented by the design of the workspace. For example, an office worker who sits on an uncomfortable chair all day is likely to begin to suffer from back pain, and have poor posture because of their work station design. Or they may get eye or neck strain if they are not sitting at the correct height for a desk or computer.
A repetitive strain injury is another hazard that can occur if a job required performing similar actions again and again. Staff at risk should have their desk of workstation ergonomically designed to avoid unnecessary strain, be encouraged to take enough breaks and move regularly.
If you are an employer who is concerned about hazards in the workplace, it is also a good idea to hold regular meetings with staff who are in the best position to inform you of the conditions in which they work. When you have their input, you can work together to improve health and safety in the workplace. This makes staff feel valued, and you will have a happy and safe workforce for your business.