How to protect against safety hazards in the workplace

How to protect against safety hazards in the workplace

Tips to protect all your employees against all safety hazards

There are safety hazards in every workplace, which may cause illness, injury, or death. In this article, continuing our series discussing the six workplace hazards you can easily avoid, you’ll learn what safety hazards are and how to protect your workers, customers and visitors against them.

Identifying safety hazards in the workplace

A safety hazard generally comes under one of two categories: it may be a safety hazard associated with tools or equipment, or a hazard that could cause a fall, trip or slip. Examples include:

  • Ice, liquids and cords on floors that could cause a trip or slip
  • Ladders, scaffolds and raised working areas that may cause a fall
  • Unguarded machinery that may cause injury
  • Electrical hazards
  • Confined spaces with poor air quality or decreased visibility
  • Tasks that put employees in potential danger

How do you assess the risk from safety hazards?

When conducting a health and safety risk assessment, you should assess the risks posed by safety hazards in the workplace by asking questions such as:

  • Does the layout of the workplace put employees at risk?
  • Do employees work with dangerous tools or equipment?
  • Do employees work with hazardous chemicals?
  • Is there a risk of slipping, tripping or falling?
  • Are there poorly lit areas or places with poor visibility, for example in areas where forklifts may be in operation?
  • What is the likelihood that safety hazards will result in an accident in the workplace?

How to reduce the risks from safety hazards in the workplace

As with other types of workplace hazards, if the risk can be eliminated then it must be, if it is practical to do so. If it is not possible to eliminate the risk entirely, then you should take actions to reduce the risk as much as possible. For example, if an employee is required to bank a day’s takings late at night, he or she may be at a greater risk of being robbed than were the takings banked the following day in broad daylight. Or, if the money must be banked at night, ensuring that two employees are assigned the task jointly will reduce the risk.

Broadly speaking, risk mitigation falls into two areas:

  1. Administrative controls or risk mitigation
  2. Engineered controls or risk mitigation

Administrative controls reduce risks by designing work processes to be safer. These may include staffing, scheduling and planning. Examples include:

  • Providing sufficient break periods between work periods to ensure employees are rested
  • Training employees in the tasks they undertake and in health and safety issues

Engineering controls reduce risks by physical means, such as changing work layouts, installing protective elements in the workplace, or using personal protective equipment (PPE). Examples include:

  • Ensuring that PPE is worn when needed
  • Placing guards on equipment and moving machinery
  • Creating no-go areas for pedestrian traffic in warehouses in which forklifts are used

Avoid employees working alone whenever possible

Risks to employees are increased when they work alone. If an accident does occur, it is likely that getting help will be more difficult. If employees must work alone, then it is essential that they are trained sufficiently in the task they are undertaking. This includes sufficient knowledge of all safety risks associated with the task and working environment. Lone workers should also have a regular check-in procedure.

If employees are threatened with physical violence, they should not resist. They should also be trained as to areas to avoid and safe driving practices.

Protect against all safety hazards

When you are conducting your workplace health and safety risk assessments, you must consider all safety hazards. It is essential that you carry out effective risk assessments and plan your health and safety policy to comply with the law and keep your employees safe.

Protect your employees and your business from the risks of all safety hazards in the workplace. Contact Sentry today and discover the online intelligent system that will help your business remain health and safety compliant with minimum effort.

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