No we are not talking multiple personalities or mental disorders, these are like the voices haunting your next actions like DON’T DO IT ! Even in safety we hear these voices they are those little invisible demons saying Yes and NO HELL NO!
Health and safety hazards exist in every workplace. Some are easily identified and corrected, while others create extremely dangerous situations that could be a threat to your life or long-term health. The best way to protect yourself is to learn to recognize and prevent hazards in your workplace.
There are four main types of workplace hazards:
Physical hazards are the most common hazards and are present in most workplaces at some time. Examples include: frayed electrical cords, unguarded machinery, exposed moving parts, constant loud noise, vibrations, working from ladders, scaffolding or heights, spills, tripping hazards.
Ergonomic hazards occur when the type of work you do, your body position and/or your working conditions put a strain on your body. They are difficult to identify because you don’t immediately recognize the harm they are doing to your health. Examples include: poor lighting, improperly adjusted workstations and chairs, frequent lifting, repetitive or awkward movements.
Chemical hazards are present when you are exposed to any chemical preparation (solid, liquid or gas) in the workplace. Examples include: cleaning products and solvents, vapours and fumes, carbon monoxide or other gases, gasoline or other flammable materials.
Biological hazards come from working with people, animals or infectious plant material. Examples include: blood or other bodily fluids, bacteria and viruses, insect bites, animal and bird droppings.
Poor work practices create hazards – examples of unsafe work practices commonly found in the workplace include:
• using machinery or tools without authority
• operating at unsafe speeds or in violation of safe work practices
• removing or disabling guards or other safety devices on machinery or equipment
• using defective tools or equipment or using tools or equipment in unsafe ways
• using hands or body instead of tools or push sticks
• overloading, crowding or failing to balance materials or handling materials in other unsafe ways, including improper lifting
• repairing or adjusting equipment that is in motion, under pressure, or electrically charged
• failing to use and/or maintain, or improperly using personal protective equipment or safety devices
• creating unsafe, unsanitary or unhealthy conditions by improper personal hygiene, poor workplace maintenance or by smoking in unauthorized areas.
• standing or working under suspended loads, scaffolds, shafts, or open hatches
Before you start work your employer should have already carried out a risk assessment of the area you are going to work in and the type of work you are going to do.
If your employer employs five people or more they should have made an official record of the assessment detailing the risks to health and safety they found together with their plans to deal with the health and safety issues.
Examples of unsafe working conditions include:
- Slippery/ debris littered floors
- Improperly secured machinery
- Poorly maintained equipment
- Bad lighting
- Dangerous stairways
- Large obstacles left in the path of workers or blocking exits
- Trailing extension cords
- Not providing safety gear (harnesses, safety masks, hard hats, etc.)
- Failure to secure dangerous chemicals and substances
- Falling objects
- Providing equipment to workers that has been modified from its original form
- Requiring workers to use equipment for something other than its intended use
- Unsecured openings
Other professions have less apparent, but serious, health risks. Assembly workers, typists, and cashiers often suffer from repetitive injuries caused by performing the same task over and over again. Office workers may sustain painful muscle strains and sprains, if employers do not take proper ergonomics into account.
Unfortunately some employers are not as thorough as they should be and allow dangerous practices and procedures in their workplaces. There are many different dangerous practices and procedures but some of the most common ones include:
- workers using tables, chairs or other objects instead of a pair of ladders
- failing to have ladders and stepladders ‘footed’, secured or fitted with stabilisers
- using ladders when scaffolding and platforms would be safer
- workers using tools and work practices unsuitable for the job in hand
- workers operating or repairing dangerous machinery for which they have received little or no training
- workers lifting or carrying heavy objects without the correct equipment or training
- workers provided with no suitable Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- workplaces which have no suitable cleaning procedures in place leaving slipping and tripping hazards for workers
- failing to separate pedestrian and fork lift traffic areas
- failing to illuminate walking and working areas and repair potholes or other hazards
- failing to heed accidents and complaints and carry out fresh risk assessments
- exposing workers to dangerous chemicals and substances
Report hazards immediately
Everyone in a workplace shares responsibility for ensuring that their work environment is safe and healthy. Some hazards pose an immediate danger and others take a longer time to become apparent. But both types of hazards must be fixed. If you are aware of a hazard in your workplace, you should report it promptly to your supervisor, employer or health and safety representative. Once a hazard has been identified, your employer and/or supervisor has a duty to assess the problem and eliminate any hazard that could injure workers.
Here are three simple steps to report unsafe conditions at your work:
Step 1: Raise your concern with your supervisor. The supervisor should acknowledge and try to resolve your safety concern.
Step 2: If you find it difficult to approach your supervisor, or your supervisor was not able to resolve your concern, talk to someone from your workplace safety and health committee or your worker safety and health representative.
Step 3: If your concern was not resolved by the committee/representative, or if you feel your issue is urgent, the boss or OH&S to report unsafe work Workplace Safety and Health will get involved as necessary.
Supervisors should conduct periodic safety inspections to identify unsafe work practices. They should be on the lookout for employees who are not wearing appropriate clothing or protective equipment; workers operating machines in an unsafe manner; failure to follow established safety policies or warning signs; employees using unsafe lifting techniques; unsafe use of forklifts and mechanical lifting devices; and other safety hazards. Supervisors should inspect both indoor and outdoor work areas to avoid overlooking unsafe practices. Once hazards have been identified, managers and employees should work together to eliminate or mitigate them.