Many businesses mistakenly think they only have to be concerned about workplace safety when they’re working with heavy machinery or hazardous materials. No matter how safe and easy a job might seem on the surface, there will always be some hazards lurking around.
You will need to put effort into mitigating risk and ensuring compliance with occupational health and safety standards. Though some roles and workspaces carry fewer hazards than others, these dangers may still be very harmful to both the employees and the organization at large.
Luckily, if you do already work with an outsourced HR firm, some of them may offer Workers’ Compensation coverage in which your provider can offer useful education to keep the workplace safe. In addition, some may offer a learning management system (LMS) which may also have safety training included in it as well.
Here are four of the most common workplace safety concerns and how you can mitigate the risk:
1. Not Having Efficient Housekeeping
Good housekeeping is the first step to creating a hazard-free environment. This goes beyond being spic and span, and while it’s still important to keep areas clean and tidy, there’s more to good housekeeping. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, slips, trips and falls are the second leading cause of nonfatal occupational injuries or illnesses involving days away from work.
Mitigate these safety risks by ensuring passageways, storerooms and service rooms are clean and dry, with drainage where there are wet processes. Combustible and flammable materials should be kept in the work area only in amounts needed for the job and not in excess. Lifesaving tools and equipment should be in good condition, and falling objects should be prevented by placing heavier objects in lower places.
2. Mishandled Cleaning Chemicals
From breathing problems and skin irritations to sore eyes, it’s no secret that some cleaning products contain harmful chemicals that can be absorbed through the skin or lungs. Mixing some cleaning chemicals can even release life-threatening gases.
Understanding the proper protocols to store cleaning products is essential, and knowing the length of time to keep them is just as needed. Your workplace should also provide training for the appropriate handling of these chemicals, which will mean ensuring employees know the health and physical hazards.
Ensuring employees know how to use and store the products, the type of personal protective equipment to use, and what procedures they will need to follow if there are spills can dramatically decrease associated safety risks.
3. Extended Use Of Extension Cords
Most places are not built with electrical outlets exactly where we would always need them, so extension cords are often used in the workplace. The unfortunate thing is, as helpful and convenient as extension cords are, they bring a new set of risks to the work environment, and employees cannot afford to be careless.
Extension cords should not be used for long periods, as they only work well temporarily. Using them for extended periods is unsafe and brings new safety risks into the workplace, even if the environment is neat and well kept. From fire incidents to slips and falls, extension cords that are not well placed and grounded are the perfect recipe for chaos. Extension cords used for more than one week are generally not considered temporary. If this is the case at your establishment, you might want to look into having an electrician add proper outlets.
4. Biological Hazards And Infectious Diseases
It is not uncommon to have employees who feel guilty for taking sick days off work. These individuals are usually very dedicated to their work, and while this is meant to be a good thing, employees who report to work while sick pose a big threat to their colleagues, especially if their ailments can be quickly spread.
There’s no telling if every employee has a strong immune system, so even minor illnesses can still be significant hazards as they could soon develop into something worse for people who have weak immunity. In more severe cases, employees may be exposed to more stubborn diseases if proper measures are not taken.
As an employer, there is a lot of work to do as biological hazards have a silent effect in most cases and are not immediately apparent. Reduce the risks associated with biological illness and disease by providing extensive training on precautions and control measures. Most importantly, any employee showing symptoms of being ill should be encouraged to take time off and stay at home. Also, hygienic practices should be reinforced, which will prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
As a business owner, you’re not expected to bear all the burden of being responsible for the well-being of your employees and raising awareness. HR is there to ensure the health and safety of the workplace while preventing any compliance concerns and liabilities. All employees should do their part to create a safe and healthy work environment by following good practices in building a happy space.