Workplace hazards can take many forms, from a sprained ankle caused by a bundle of cords on the ground to a severed finger on a construction site. No matter how dangerous the accident, workplace hazards can and should be avoided at all costs. The quickest way to avoid workplace safety hazards: Follow the strict safety guidelines outlined in your employee manual from the second you get hired until the day you retire.
There are several different categories of workplace hazards, including safety hazards, biological hazards, physical hazards, ergonomic hazards, chemical hazards, and work organization hazards.
Safety hazards include things like spills, falls, machinery, electrical, and space hazards. Safety hazards are probably the easiest to avoid at work. Typically, there are documented safety codes for every business to ensure it is being run smoothly and safely. Making sure these codes are being strictly followed is the job of the managerial staff, but each employee should be paying attention to them as well.
Employees need to stay vigilant at work when different hazards present themselves. If a drink spills on the floor that can cause somewhat to slip, make sure it is cleaned up quickly and thoroughly with well-marked signage notifying passersby that the floor is wet. If there are exposed cords coming from the walls or electronics, have them covered, or secured so people cannot access them.
Employee illness can also contribute to an unsafe working environment, so be responsible for your health by getting a yearly flu shot and taking your daily vitamins. Unsafe working conditions can be easily avoided if each and every person in the building is being cautious for themselves and for those around them.
Often, people think only certain kinds of businesses work with hazardous biological materials, like jobs involving animals, plant matter, and chemicals. But the truth is, biological hazards can be present in any business, whether it’s a hospital, lab, or office.
For example, if you work in an older building that hasn’t recently been renovated, there is a chance that you could experience asbestos exposure from the old insulation in the walls. Asbestos is not an easy thing to spot if you don’t know what you’re looking for, so it can be very precarious.
Chemicals like asbestos can make you very sick. Certain chemicals commonly found in the workplace like mold, fungi, and bacteria can lead to extremely severe symptoms if not treated quickly.
Business owners have the large responsibility of caring for the health and safety of all of their employees. If you get sick at work because of hazardous materials, that is certainly not your fault, though such risks can be evaded if employees followed safety guidelines established in their manuals.
These types of hazards are caused by direct exposure to factors within the space or environment that can be harmful to your body. These hazards vary from moderate to quite severe.
For example, nurses and doctors have to be cautious about exposure to radiation when they are working with or closely to image processors like x-ray machines. Also, people who regularly work outside have to be careful of extreme temperatures as well as UV ray exposure from the sun. Another physical hazard that many people overlook is noise. Construction workers and military officials have to be especially cautious about noise levels. Eardrums are actually quite sensitive and can be damaged by high volumes of noise and persistent noise.
Avoid these workplace hazards by being aware of your physical surroundings, and stay mindful of your health by taking necessary breaks from your difficult work.
Ergonomic hazards refer to work that requires employees to be overly exerted or positioned in a way that puts stress on their body. Employees who work in these conditions over the long term tend to suffer very serious effects like carpal tunnel, sprained disks, and illness.
These types of hazards are very easily averted by ensuring your employees have the necessary equipment to be comfortable and safe at work. Get each employee a comfortable chair that supports back health, provides back braces, and supports employees who do frequent heavy lifting. Also, give special headphones to employees who are around heavy machinery that vibrates continuously.
Chemical preparation is fairly common in many types of workplace environments, like science labs, doctor’s offices, and pharmacies. However, some of the solutions used in these industries have the capacity to severely injure people.
We all learned in 9th-grade chemistry that in the event that your body is exposed to chemicals, you need to immediately rinse off in the chemical shower. This is also important after graduation if you expect to be continuing that kind of work. Be sure there are hazardous waste disposal stations at your job to prevent injury.
Simple pesticides and cleaning solutions can contain these chemicals as well, so be mindful of this fact even if you work far from a lab. Household cleaners and janitorial staff: Wear protective gloves when working with harsh cleaning chemicals. Farmers and gardeners: Protect your eyes and skin from the negative effects of pesticides.
Work organization hazards
These hazards refer to your daily experience at work as far as your workload, the intensity of your work, your schedule, and your coworkers. The workplace can be a very stressful environment that puts a lot of strain on your body and your mind. These types of hazards are extremely common as people start to worry more about their work and less about their personal health.
There a few things you can consider to help maintain your anxiety levels at work.
- Be sure to take frequent mini-breaks to give your mind time to heal and your body time to rest. Rather than take one or two long breaks from your work day, space your breaks out a bit more and give yourself four or five shorter breaks for a quick restroom visit and some hydration.
- Having a company luncheon? Exciting! But try to avoid taking in extra sugars by bringing low-sugar and low-fat treats and snacks. This is especially important for women because women are scientifically more susceptible to heart disease, which is directly linked to sugar intake.
- Take your much-needed mental health day. Not nearly enough people give themselves days off from work because of the fear of missing out on money or opportunities. Mental health is extremely important and often overlooked, so next time you wake up for work and simply can’t fulfill your duties for whatever reasons, speak with your boss about taking a mental health day.
Noah Yarnol Rue is a journalist and digital nomad. He is fascinated with global health and modern technology.
His love of writing and research began while attending college in the small Pacific Northwest town he called home. His writing is influenced by his journalistic integrity to share the truth and give the reader the information they crave to know.
Noah’s curiosity created his nomadic lifestyle. He is on the move across the U.S. meeting new people, learning about different cultures and current trends that influence people.
In his free time, Noah enjoys 1930s mystery novels, researching his next travel location and is a huge fan of the Olympics.