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5 Common Workplace Hazards

Australians spend a considerable amount of time in the workplace.

Not surprisingly, the safety of the work environment directly influences productivity and the happiness of the employees.

In certain industries, workplace health and safety plays a more consequential role. Minimising work-related risks is the responsibility of employers and business owners.

In this article, we’ll look at effective ways to minimise or eliminate common workplace hazards.

1. Ergonomic hazards

Workers who perform repetitive movements or strenuous physical tasks without appropriate assistive devices, often suffer musculoskeletal injuries.

These injuries commonly affect the back, or neck, shoulders, forearms, wrists, hands.

Effective strategies to improve ergonomic safety

  • Prevention through training & awareness
  • Investment in assistive devices & ergonomic design
  • Elimination or reduction of repetitive tasks
  • Relief for repetitive tasks by rotating among employees

2. Safety hazards

A safety hazard can be anything that might cause physical harm.

Typical safety hazards are objects or environments that could lead to burns, spills, shocks, falls, and injuries. Other safety hazards include working at heights, power tools, heavy machinery, high-temperature devices, and untidy workplaces.

Effective strategies to reduce safety hazards

  • Conduct a thorough risk assessment as the first step toward finding solutions
  • Make sure potentially hazardous equipment is accounted for & stored properly
  • Guardrails installed, especially in elevated work areas
  • First aid courses for designated employees

3. Biological hazards

A biological hazard is where the potential for illness or disease comes from working with animals, people, poisonous plants, or contaminated objects.

These types of hazards are commonplace in hospitals, daycare centres, laboratories, and agricultural facilities.

Effective strategies to improve biological safety

  • Invest in proper work clothing
  • Educate staff & train them in hygiene & sanitation practices
  • Introduce procedures to isolate sick or contaminated individuals, animals & objects
  • Implement an effective disease prevention plan
  • Encourage healthy lifestyles & diets for employees

4. Chemical hazards

Exposure to chemical hazards is a concern in workplaces where chemicals are handled. Such workplaces include those that deal with cleaning products, paints, pesticides, gases, oils, fuels, and also those where fumes are a byproduct.

Effective strategies

  • Invest in protective clothing, including gas masks if needed
  • Educate workers on the effects of hazardous chemicals
  • Maintain equipment regularly
  • Install signage & labels for dangerous substances & work areas

5. Work organisation hazards

A work organisation hazard is a workplace environment that causes stress. This includes unfair workloads, poor employee relationships, sexual harassment, violence, workplace where respect and/or flexibility is lacking, and where employees feel they have no control or say in work-related matters.

Effective strategies to create better workplace behaviour

  • Encourage open communication between managers & workers
  • Have a discreet method for employees to report problems in the workplace
  • Practise workplace equality
  • Hold meetings that highlight the importance of respect & accountability
  • Ensure workers know the consequences of physical abuse & sexual harassment
  • Organise team-building retreats or activities to improve office relationships
  • Ensure that employees know and feel that their opinions matter
  • Implement a fair employee promotion policy

Focus on prevention

It may seem a costly exercise to reduce or eliminate workplace hazards. It is, nevertheless, a worthwhile investment for a business owner.

To ignore workplace hazards would invite expensive litigation. With fewer work-related illnesses, injuries, and stress, absenteeism will be reduced.

Your employees are the lifeblood of your business. The happier, safer, and healthier they are at work, the more productive and efficient your employees will be.

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