What Are Safety Hazards?

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Safety hazards can cost time, money and even lives.
Safety hazards can cost time, money and even lives. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Safety hazards are objects or situations that place people in harm's way. Identifying and addressing these hazards is key to avoiding workplace injuries, costly lawsuits and even employee fatalities. Certain governing bodies, such as the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, have the job of making sure that offices and other working facilities are compliant with safety codes and procedures.

Floors

Falls are a common safety hazard at work, often due to uneven flooring, torn carpet, spills on uncarpeted surfaces and waxed floors. Fall are one of the largest reasons for employee compensation filings. In order to prevent falls in your workplace, make sure that all flooring is kept in good repair. Mop up spills immediately, and place signs on freshly washed or waxed floors.

Chemicals

Many different types of chemicals and solvents are used in offices and industrial settings -- some of which can be deadly if people come into contact with them. Inhaling chemicals -- either briefly or over time -- as well as exposing the skin to them can cause permanent injury to employees. Train your staff to report suspicious smells, including gas and cleaning chemicals, as well as seek immediate medical attention if a chemical-related injury is suspected.

Sharps

Typically found in medical environments, uncapped needles and other pointed objects (often called "sharps") can injure and tear the skin, causing lacerations, and even infections with deadly diseases. Sharps should always be capped and disposed of in an appropriate manner. Disposing of sharps often involves putting them in separate containers and having the items removed from the grounds by a hired company.

Electrical

Exposed electrical wiring puts employees as risk for shock, burns, electrocution, as well as tripping over wires and cords. Hire an experienced electrician to install and repair any wiring. Tape down, or otherwise adhere wires safely to floors and walls if they absolutely must traverse them. Do not overload sockets and plugs with too many wires, and make sure that all necessary sockets are grounded. Do not allow wires to become tangled up with each other or other objects.

Equipment

Finally, malfunctioning equipment is a source of workplace safety hazards that can cause massive amounts of harm in a short period of time. From simple shredders to forklifts and poorly constructed scaffolding, all employees should be properly trained on how to operate the equipment they use, as well as request repairs as soon as they are needed.

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References

  • "Job Hazard Analysis"; James Roughton and Nathan Crutchfield; 2007
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