Do you know how to spot safety hazards at work? Even though you may think you work in a relatively trouble-free workplace, the statistics say otherwise. Let’s take a look at the top workplace hazards that may be hiding right in your own office space, and how to avoid becoming a victim.
How many people get hurt at work every year?
Every business has the potential to be a danger zone, with hazards lurking in dark office corners and hallways just waiting for an unsuspecting employee. Workplace safety is an issue that is often overlooked, until an employee gets seriously hurt on the job. The US Department of Labor – Bureau of Labor and Statistics revealed in their 2012 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, that there were 2,986,500 reported injuries on the job. The most frequent work-related accidents included:
- 340 thousand muscle sprains, strain and tears
- 182 thousand back injuries
- 226 thousand slips, falls and trips
- 5,000 accidents/violence resulting in death
- 1,103 roadway accidents
What can you do to stop potential danger at work?
There are several things that anyone can do to make the work environment a safer place to be. First, take responsibility for your immediate work station and the floor around you. Look for items that my cause trips or falls, such as loose carpet tiles, cords, or stacked boxes. Remove the clutter around your work station and keep this area neat. You’ll find that you will be more productive as an added perk.
Next, take the time to review your company’s hazardous chemicals manual, which should be stored on sight in a common area. Inside, you will find MSDS sheets that list any chemicals or products used on site. Pay special attention to chemicals and the proper use, such as not using aerosols in closed areas or with no ventilation. Browse through them and alert your HR department if the MSDS sheets are outdated.
Take the time to wear clothing and shoes that are comfortable and appropriate for the type of tasks you do on a daily basis. For example, you may not want to wear 3-inch platform heels if your job is to work in a restaurant. Clothes and shoes also serve as protective wear in any environment. If you work in a manufacturing plant, you would want to wear long pants and shirts, as well as protective shoes and eyewear.
Being safe at work also applies to your physical status. Follow proper lifting techniques, and ask for help when doing anything strenuous. If you are sick or very tired, avoid engaging in any risky activities like using large equipment or driving a company vehicle. When fatigued, rest or take a day off.
Lastly, ask your onsite safety officer to do a walk-through of any areas that may pose risks to yourself and other employees. These can include poorly lighted areas, narrow hallways with too many filing cabinets or paper boxes, slippery or uneven floors, broken furniture, or fixtures. Report any incidents of bullying, fighting, or threats.
According to Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration, your employer is responsible for making sure your work environment is safe. This includes taking steps to reduce workplace violence from employees, customers, and outside threats. This starts with being aware of the environment around you and being part of the solution.
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