Detecting Workplace Safety Hazards
If you are looking at different ways to improve the safety of your facility, it is important to look for all types of workplace safety hazards. Some of them will be quite obvious and easy to address, but others will be harder to detect.
Look at the following examples of hidden dangers that may be found in almost any facility. Knowing to look for these risks, and learning how to eliminate them, is a great way to help improve the overall safety of any facility. In addition, make sure you take the time to look through your facility for any signs of other types of hazards, and always remember to ask the employees for insight into this as well.
5 Workplace Safety Hazard Dangers
1. Fatigued Employees
Just about all facilities either allow or even require their employees to work overtime in order to get all the work completed. While this is an effective way to ensure everything is done without having to hire seasonal or part time help, it can actually present a lot of safety issues.
There have been multiple studies done that show that when employees are fatigued, they are much more likely to make a mistake and experience an accident or injury. When people are working long hours each day, or extra days each week, it will cause them to become a safety hazard.
Overtime can be a safe option, but it is a good idea to put steps in place to help ensure employees aren’t becoming a hazard. Letting employees opt out of overtime when they are feeling too tired is also a good option in many cases.
2. Hidden Openings
Many facilities have ‘hidden openings’ that can be a significant workplace safety hazard. These opening can be something like a man hole (with no cover) or a staircase, or an opening at the top of a ladder. No matter what the case, however, these openings can be very dangerous if they are not properly protected and marked.
They are especially risky because people often carry large items through facilities, which can limit how well they can see. With this in mind, it is always a good idea to put railings around any openings, or if that is not possible, at least put up safety signs (which you can find here) or other things to alert people in the area to the risk.
Many facilities use floor marking tape (similar to this) in the area leading up to an opening or a staircase. This can help people to easily see the risk, so they can take steps to avoid it. Whatever you choose to do, make sure all hidden openings are kept as safe as possible.
3. Indoor Temperatures
Most people recognize the fact that manufacturing facilities and other large workplaces can get very hot. No matter the temperature outside, the heat that is generated from the machinery can raise the temperature significantly. When it is hot outside, however, it can become dangerously hot very quickly.
What makes it worse is that it can be very difficult to control the climate, even with high end air conditioning units. This is why planning out air handling and heat exhaust should be part of any safety planning in your facility.
While the temperature may not really be ‘hidden,’ it certainly can cause unexpected problems. As the temperature raises, people can become dehydrated or experience heat stroke, which can be very serious.
According to OSHA,
“Workers exposed to hot indoor environments or hot and humid conditions outdoors are at risk of heat-related illness, especially those doing heavy work tasks or using bulky or non-breathable protective clothing and equipment. Some workers might be at greater risk than others if they have not built up a tolerance to hot conditions, or if they have certain health conditions.”
4. Poor Lighting Conditions
One of the most common workplace safety hazards is a lack of proper lighting. This is because many facilities have very high ceilings, which makes it hard to get the right amount of light into the right areas. In addition, there are often machines and other items that block the light and lead to ‘dark spots’ where it can be difficult to see.
Adding in additional lighting fixtures will help ensure people working in every area of the facility can see properly, which is critical for facility safety. Having consistent lighting throughout the facility will help minimize the risk of people tripping or walking into dangerous areas.
5. Extension Cords
There are many times on most worksites where someone needs electrical power in an area where it is not easily accessible. In these situations, an extension cord is often the easiest way to get the job done. While these cords can certainly be convenient, they can also be a significant workplace safety hazard.
Look at the following ways that extension cords can put the facility and individuals in the facility, at significant danger:
- Electrocution – When there is an electrical cord run across the floor, someone could run over it with a cart or vehicle. This could cut through the cord, exposing people to the risk of electrocution.
- Tripping Hazard – When cords are run through an area where someone is walking, it can be a significant tripping hazard. People may not see the cord and get their feet caught on it, which can be dangerous.
- Surge Hazards – The electrical systems within a facility should be set up to handle the needed load in any given area. When you add an extension cord to another item that is drawing power, it could cause an overloaded circuit or other issues. This can cause a power outage or even a surge.
There are many other risks associated with using extension cords within a facility. If at all possible, it should be avoided. When there is a need for power in an area, it is best to have it properly run. If it is only a temporary need, then it is important to make sure the extension cord is run safely and covered so people don’t trip over it.
Always Think Safety
While these are some common workplace safety hazards that go unnoticed, there are undoubtedly many others that need to be addressed. The most important thing you can do to identify and eliminate these risks is to make sure you encourage everyone to always be on the lookout for anything that could cause an accident or injury.
Taking all reports of safety problems seriously, and responding to them quickly, will help to keep your facility operating as safely as possible.