Do you know of any workplace that is totally safe? Hazards exist in just about every vocation there is. There are safety professionals that identify those hazards and train their employees to be mindful of the risks that are involved in their particular industry; most of these hazards are easy to control. However, there are hidden hazards that can cause damage, illness, or injury to workers. Have you noticed any of these at your place of work?
Occupational Health and Safety legislation outlines standard equipment controls that must apply to every type of equipment that is in operation: machine guards, light sensors, warning devices or other safety devices, lockout systems, good houskekeeping and general work safety rules. Safety devices are classified as engineering controls – the best form of control when running equipment. You can observe the guards on the machinery, but there may be hidden hazards around equipment, such as dust, fumes, particles in the air, or possible flying objects. That’s where PPE comes in. Companies furnish goggles, respirators, gloves, safety glasses, and any kind of personal protective equipment that fits the needs of the employees.
Here’s a few “hidden hazards” that you may have spotted:
- Poor housekeeping. Clutter, trash, tools left out. Cleanliness should be a requirement at all workplaces.
- Fumes, exhaust, toxic fumes, chemicals, cleaning products, pesticides, toners, office products – these can cause certain persons to have allergic reactions, or other health-related illnesses.
- Poor ventilation. Working in a too-cool or too-hot environment can cause illness.
- Second-hand smoke.
- Loose carpet.
- Slick floors.
- Loose steps.
- Poor lighting.
- Poorly stacked materials in storeroom. Be sure to use a stepladder before reaching up to remove something from a shelf. There could be lots of stored energy just waiting to fall on you.
- Windowless doors. In high-traffic areas, persons can have serious collisions by not watching for someone coming from the other side.
- Computer screens – cause dry eye if stared into too long.
- Repetitive motions can cause carpal tunnel, tennis elbow, or tendonitis.
- Drug/alcohol abuse by coworker. This can cause serious problems for all workers. It is best to report this to your supervisor before someone gets hurt.
- Bullying or harassment is a hazard to other workers, especially the one who is being bullied or harassed.
You can probably name several hidden hazards that we haven’t thought of. Correcting hazards before illnesses, accidents or allergic reactions occur is a winning strategy. Be a fanatic about health and safety, and show your supervisor that you believe it should be a top priority. Fortunately, most hazards are situations that managers and supervisors can do something about. But it begins with awareness. One thing may be a threat to someone’s health but it doesn’t affect others. However, all employees deserve to be protected all the time. You can make your office, shop or factory a safe place to work. Don’t assume that it is until you become aware of what has been and is being done to keep it safe. Do your part, and always stay alert! We would appreciate hearing your ideas about hidden hazards in the workplace!