Strap in your seatbelts and grab your helmets; it’s a dangerous world out there. No, we’re not talking about jungles or the outback. This blog is about somewhere much closer to home—your workplace.
Did you know the average company receives more than two fines per inspection by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) with the average fine costing about $1,000? That’s a lot of unplanned dough rolling out the door. But what’s even more significant is every day an average 6,000 people die as a result of work-related injuries. That’s over 2 million workplace deaths per year!
When it comes to workplace safety, there’s quite a bit at stake. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 Most Common Workplace Hazards, as cited by OSHA.
- Inappropriate Fall Protection: We all know that heights can be dangerous, but at what point should you consider a height hazardous? It’s federally mandated that any employee on a leading edge 6 feet above a lower level must have appropriate fall safety systems in place. This can include safety nets, guardrail systems, or personal fall arrest systems such as harnesses or other approved tethering equipment.
- Poor Hazard Communication: Number 2 refers not to the hazard itself, but rather the lack of communication regarding hidden chemical hazards. For example, if an office manager stores bleach for cleaning purposes that employees might be exposed to, the employer is required by law to communicate this to employees, as well as the risks associated with exposure to bleach products. And rules are much stricter for workplaces that produce or import chemicals.
- Scaffolding: When you see the name, it’s no surprise that scaffolding would make the list. There are many rules and regulations that accompany the use of scaffolding in the workplace.
- Poor Respiratory Protection: Some workplaces produce dusts, fumes, and other atmospheric contaminants that can be harmful when inhaled. Employers are required to provide appropriate equipment and control processes to protect employees from coming to harm from these substances, including appropriate personal respirators where necessary.
- Powered Industrial Trucks: They may look like fun, but industrial vehicles can also be dangerous. Employers should know the rules and regulations associated with the use of industrial trucks including, but not limited to, fork trucks, tractors, lift trucks, and several other vehicles a seven-year-old boy might drool over.
- Lack of Control of Hazardous Energy: Electricity is dangerous. This hazard applies to heavy production machinery that contains some degree of volatility in its energy use.
- Ladders: There’s a reason your dad told you to be careful around ladders. When ladders are required in the workplace, it’s important to ensure that a ladder is of appropriate strength for its use, as well as inform employees about good ladder safety.
- Electrical Wiring Hazards: This one probably goes without saying, but devices should be wired properly. Anytime electricity is involved, care should be taken to ensure safety and protection. Wiring should be checked and rechecked to guarantee OSHA compliance.
- Machine Guarding: Use of machinery always carries a certain degree of hazard, from rotating parts to sparks and flying debris. Employers should provide appropriate guarding to protect employees, such as barrier guards, electronic safety devices, etc.
- General Electrical Risks: If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it … well, three times now. Electricity is dangerous. But it’s not just faulty wiring or big machines that create risks for employees. Outlets, office equipment, and even bundled cables can create hazards in the workplace. The entire workplace should be examined to ensure that all electrical risks receive adequate care and attention.
And that’s just the top 10! Workplace hazards go far beyond this list, from workplace stress to emotional stimuli. Whether you’re the owner, the CEO, or a part-time employee, it takes a team to improve workplace safety. Every one of us has the responsibility to make our workplaces safe, positive environments for the people we encounter throughout our workdays. To learn more about these hazards and how you can make your workplace safer, visit the OSHA website.
[Steps off soapbox] Now let’s go have some fun practicing workplace safety!