Technological developments in the workplace have made it easier for hazardous situations to be identified with swiftness—yet devoting complete attention to protecting employees and assuring business continuity requires more than revolutionary apps or machinery. Therefore, companies interested in bettering their efforts in the health and safety sector need to first understand how the field works. From issues such as harassment in the workplace or stress, to injuries and illnesses caused by faulty machinery—everything needs to be considered when developing a crisis communication plan or an emergency response plan.
According to recent statistics, in the United States, 71% of the working age population is currently employed, and therefore under the protection of the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). However, workplace hazards and the way they are dealt with are in tight correlation with companies and their efforts in providing a safe environment for all employees and other people their business comes in contact with. Based on information from the World Health Organization, more people die each year from workplace-related injuries and illnesses than other major causes such as traffic or armed conflict. Given these worrying statistics, but also news about companies not complying with OSHA guidelines and endangering their employees, it is of utmost importance for your business to actively engage in health and safety industry issues.
Before discussing the top 6 workplace hazards and how to prevent them, you need to understand how to classify workplace hazards in order to draft better plans and strategies for their prevention.
Classifying Workplace Hazards Based on Nature and Occurrence
Both acute and chronic hazards can occur within a business for a wide range of reasons, whether we are speaking of situations caused by events that have a hazardous nature, or by events which became hazardous due to improper usage. Knowing how to deal with all of these hazardous events—regardless of their cause—depends on properly classifying them and on drafting custom-tailored crisis communication strategies and emergency plans based on that classification.
Also, the acute or chronic nature of a hazard can help you predict their term impact, and all workers should be involved in maintaining a healthy and safe workplace. This can be of significant help when drafting maintenance strategies, training courses, and of course, when implementing crisis communication strategies with the help of modern tools and solutions. Further, we will go over the top 6 workplace hazards and how they can manifest themselves in the workplace. Also, this article will showcase how to deal with hazardous situations in terms of crisis communication and emergency response plans so that your employees have all the information they need in the event of a crisis.
Top 6 Workplace Hazards and How to Prevent Them
Regardless of the industry your company operates in, workplace hazards can significantly impact your business continuity and of course jeopardize the health and wellbeing of your employees. Although industry regulators have provided businesses with the set of rules and guidelines, there are still situations in which employees have to deal with an insecure work environment due to the manner in which their employer is regulating health and safety issues internally. If you want to make sure that you are dealing with workplace hazards in an efficient way, first you need to know what kind of hazards can happen on the premises where your employees are conducting their activities.
1. Physical Hazards
Amongst the most common acute hazards—which are hazards that have immediate effects— physical hazards are usually created went employers and employees don’t take the proper precautions that are needed for creating a safe workplace environment. Also, physical hazards can occur when machines are either mishandled or aren’t working as they should. Situation such as walkways or emergency exits blocked by objects, unsafe or misused equipment, slippery floors, excessive noise from machinery, falls, or fire hazards, are examples of physical hazards that can occur in the workplace.
In order to make sure that your company is taking all the necessary precautions dealing with physical hazards, you need to have methodically-drafted plans and strategies, which rely on modern tools and solutions for their implementation. For example, you need to provide your employees with a mean of communication that they can use to report such issues.
2. Ergonomic Hazards
Ergonomic hazards belong to both acute and chronic hazards categories, as they can have either obvious impact or long-term ones. The hazards fitting into this category can be related to the design of your workstations, the design of your equipment, the manual handling of products, and anything else in the production process that can be linked with activities interrupted or transformed into hazardous events by poorly designed equipment or machinery. Ergonomic hazards can successfully be avoided when you’re gathering the proper feedback from your employees but also conducting regular maintenance sessions.
3. Radiation Hazards
Nowadays, workplaces are equipped with a wide range of technologies that involve radiation hazards. From lasers, machines with x-rays or gamma rays, microwaves, infrared technologies, and many others. Although these technologies are highly productive in a lot of industries, companies must make sure that they are taking all the necessary precautions when it comes to the health and safety of employees who are interacting with them. If you are not familiar with the steps you need to take in order to safeguard your workplace, make sure to check the guidelines of industry authorities.
4. Biological Hazards
Usually when hearing the term ‘biological hazards’, people often think of disasters or catastrophic events of a greater scale, such as the ones we see in apocalyptical movies. Yet biological hazards such as infections with a virus, parasites, bacteria, or others, can lead to severe workplace emergencies, and can significantly threaten the wellbeing—and even the life—of your employees. Such infections can occur through a cut, the bite of an insect, or by coming in contact with people who are already infected, or with a contaminated object within the workplace.
Taking the proper precautions for avoiding biological hazards, and for dealing with them in a successful manner, involves having all the information from health and industry regulators, but also making sure that your workplace is up-to-code in terms of dealing would biological hazards. Given the severity of the dangers involving biological hazards, counting on the fast and efficient crisis communication channel such as a mass notification system is mandatory for the health and safety of your employees.
5. Chemical Hazards
The design, layout, and machinery encountered in a workplace usually involves things such as pipes and other conductors for chemical substances, either used in a specific step of the production program, or to power the overall activity of a business. Chemical hazards can occur due to fumes, liquids, vapors, gases, biofuels, dust particles, and other related substances. Make sure that your workplace is always up-to-code with all industry regulators and legislation involving the use of chemical materials and substances, and that your employees have a proper way of reporting any violations or concerns. Also, don’t forget to schedule regular maintenance sessions.
6. Psychological Hazards
Psychological hazards are usually chronic hazards with long-term effects, such as an overbearing workload, working with the public, discrimination, harassment issues, stress, dangerous workplace situations, and other related triggers. When it comes to dealing what psychological hazards in the workplace, the most important aspect you need to have in mind is the existence over proper communication channel between your employees and the people in charge of their health and safety. In order to avoid psychological hazards in the workplace you must make sure that your company is providing its employees not only with a safe workplace, but also an understanding the importance of such hazards.
Regardless of the type of workplace hazard you are dealing with, knowing how to classify the main hazards that can’t occur on the premises of your business is mandatory for successfully handling any situation. Don’t forget to always draft your plans and strategies in accordance with the health and safety needs of your employees, and with the measures you need to take for assuring business continuity. Whether you are dealing with an acute or chronic hazard, providing your employees with the means of proficiently overcoming any stressful situation—or a situation that is jeopardizing their health—is not only necessary but also, it’s the thing that will make a difference when it comes to your success as a business.