Common Hazards in the Workplace
Incidents involving manual handling make up more than half of all workplace injuries. Manual handling is not just lifting and carrying heavy objects It also includes tasks like having to push, pull, hold, support, or restrain something. The risks are increased if the object in question is of an awkward shape or unexpected weight.
Working at heights
Working at height forms part of many jobs. Construction, roof work, and tree surgery are just a few examples, although there are many more. Typical height related incidents include things like, collapsing scaffolding, falling from ladders, through roofs, into holes, and down uncovered shafts.
Risks can arise from many of the tasks where work is required at heights. For example, using a ladder in the workplace creates a risk of falling if the ladder isn’t right for the job or if it’s not used in a safe manner. It’s important to be aware of potential hazards, before undertaking any task.
Employers have a duty of care to control hazards. While some hazards are specific to an industry or work location, there are others that are found among different industries, and so might be considered common hazards.
Use of Chemicals
Chemicals that can cause you and those around you harm are found in every workplace. Even in offices, potentially harmful chemicals will be used for cleaning. One dangerous thing about chemicals is that you can’t always see them. They can take the form of a solid, liquid, or gas. They can be absorbed through the skin, swallowed, or even breathed in without you knowing it.
Slip and trip hazards
These include over polished or wet floors, items left lying in corridors or places where people walk, loose and lifting floor coverings, untidy work areas etc.
Some indicators that your workplace noise exposure may be above the exposure standards are:
- Employees have to raise their voice to communicate at a distance of 1 metre.
- Employees have a temporary reduction in hearing, ringing in the ears, or have to turn up the car radio after leaving work for the day; or
- Employees use hearing protection during their work shifts.
Loud noise can damage the sensitive structures within your inner ear, leading to irreversible hearing loss. And it’s important to know that loud noises don’t have to be physically painful to cause hearing damage. The harm is cumulative. The higher the level of sound and the longer the exposure, the more damage is likely to occur. Remember, if you damage your hearing, it won’t come back!
It’s an employer’s responsibility to provide a safe work environment and there is a national standard for noise exposure in the workplace.
You should also be aware that your risk of hearing loss increases if you are occupationally exposed to solvents or toxins or if you are taking certain drugs.
Repetitive work duties
Repetitive tasks and those carried out in strained or awkward positions, can also result in injuries.
Those with full time jobs are more likely to suffer from an injury of this type. Workers filing these type of claims include data entry personnel, mechanics and those who work with smaller hand tools. This is not to say other occupations do not result in overexertion of certain muscles.
The diagnosis of this condition is based on the history provided by the patient, the physical examination findings and an EMG diagnostic test.
Use of machinery and equipment
Injuries resulting from the use of machinery and equipment are common in industries such as construction, manufacturing and farming.
Risks from machinery can be controlled by isolating or guarding machines so people can’t get close to moving parts where they could be cut, struck, or trapped. Machine operators must be trained, and machines maintained to ensure safe operation.
Workplaces must have procedures to ensure that faults are reported immediately, and that machinery is deactivated or locked out until it has been repaired or replaced. It is important to follow machine operating procedures, and to use all required safety gear, such as hearing or eye protection. Your employer will provide you with the protective items you need to wear and will demonstrate how to use them correctly. There should be signs placed on, or near, machines to clearly state what safety items are required, so look out for them.