Top 5 Hidden Workplace Safety Issues
Workplaces are full of safety hazards. Some are obvious, such as heavy machinery. Others may not be so obvious, such as poor desk placement or bad lighting. A truly safe workplace is not just free of obvious safety hazards but is also free of hidden ones. Here are five often-overlooked workplace safety hazards to look out for.
Office jobs have the reputation of being safe and “cushy” contrasted with more hands-on occupations. An office presents its own safety hazards, however. The most overlooked of these dangers is the ergonomics of office equipment and furniture. In general its equipment design has little concern for the human body.
Desks are often too high or too low. The computer mouse often requires unnecessarily firm button pressing. And keyboards are designed for right-angled bodies that simply don’t exist. Making things worse, the average office worker gets far too little exercise, sitting in the same position for hours on end. All of these conditions make repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) a major risk for many office jobs. To keep its employees safe, all offices should adhere to ergonomic standards for equipment and furniture. Managers should also not penalize employees for stretching and move around.
In many restaurants, the use of knives is expected. The need for knives is so universal that it’s often overlooked how dangerous they actually are. A knife accident can easily result in a severed fingertip. But seldom is proper knife training given. Compounding the problem, knives are often kept too dull, and stored and washed improperly.
To prevent injury, proper training is essential. Knives should be washed by hand, and put away when not in use. They should never be stored loose in a drawer or container. Cutting gloves can protect hands and should be worn when possible. Remember: a kitchen knife can never be completely safe. Employees should always be aware of potential dangers.
Lighting is another often overlooked factor in workplace safety. All too often, management believes that simply having lights — any lights — is safe enough. But having lights doesn’t necessarily mean having adequate lighting. Insufficient lighting can be dangerous. It can lead to eye strain; it can also lead to tripping, falling, and damaged equipment or merchandise.
Fortunately, it’s straightforward to improve lighting conditions. Simple solutions can include providing portable lighting units, installing table- and desk-mounted lamps, and making more use of natural lighting.
Workers who lift heavy loads frequently often know proper lifting habits well. However, the same cannot be said for all employees. Some employees only rarely lift heavy objects. These employees may be greatly at risk when carrying boxes, large packages, or office equipment. In many situations it is wisest to allow only employees experienced in heavy lifting to perform such tasks. In other situations, periodic training for all personnel is the best option.
Stairs, though present in nearly every multi-story building, can pose a significant safety hazard to any employee. In general, employees do not think before ascending or descending stairs, and they may not even look before stepping. So it is vital that extra care be taken to draw attention to the stairs. That means making sure there is adequate lighting. It may also mean placing brightly-colored, textured tape or other material on the edge of each step. Employees should be encouraged to look before stepping, and they should be encouraged to use the elevator instead of the stairs when carrying heavy objects.
Editor’s Note: Keith Arnold is a professional blogger that provides an insight on career topics. He writes for BestDriverJobs.com, where you can find listings for local truck driving jobs and owner operator trucking jobs.
Image credit: Visa’s Russia Office