The Most Common Workplace Hazards
Nearly 13,000 Americans are injured on the job every year. No matter what industry you work in, all jobs come with their own set of occupational hazards. While some jobs are risky by nature, even a quiet office job can put you at risk for being injured while moving heavy boxes. The National Safety Council tries to prevent unsafe workplaces by doing safety audits at workplaces all over the country. Over the course of visiting so many workplaces, they inevitably start to notice that certain hazards appear more frequently than others. Recently, the National Safety Council released a list of the seven of the most common workplace hazards.
Falls have long been one of the most common ways people are injured on the job, so it comes as no surprise that working at a height tops the list as the most common workplace hazard. No matter what the job is, anybody who needs to work at a higher elevation needs to take special precautions to stay safe. In 2014, 14% of all workplace fatalities were caused by falling and OSHA frequently has to issue citations for violations related to ladders and scaffolding. In some cases, the fall prevention equipment supplied to workers isn’t used properly or the equipment is too worn out to adequately protect workers. In other cases, the employer isn’t aware they need to provide fall protection equipment or workers aren’t trained about how to use the fall protection equipment. In any case, many falls are completely preventable and more needs to be done to prevent workers from falling on the job.
Clutter and Poor Cleanup
A clean, well-organized workplace isn’t just good for the overall efficiency of the business, it keeps workers safe, too. Clutter ranks at number two on the National Safety Council’s most common workplace hazards. They very frequently see emergency exits and aisles blocked by boxes or boxes stacked so high on shelves that they block sprinklers, making it difficult for them to work properly in the event of a fire. Spills that aren’t immediately cleaned up also put workers at risk of slipping and falling on the job.
We’ve all been there — you need to plug something in, but the cord is too short to reach the nearest outlet or you have too many things to plug in and the outlet is full. Because of this, extension cords and power strips are a common part of our lives. But many workplaces have too many extension cords running through work areas, creating a trip hazard for workers. When several extension cords and power strips are plugged into each other, known as daisy chaining, it can increase the risk of a fire in addition to being something for workers to trip over.
All workers have those days where it feels like there’s just not enough time to get everything done. But when your job involves driving a forklift, being in a hurry makes it more likely for accidents to happen. In many cases, forklift accidents are caused when the driver is under a lot of pressure and, as a result, starts cutting corners on safety. When this happens, in far too many cases, the employer doesn’t do anything to address the problem of forklift drivers being overworked and simply allows drivers to return to work after providing additional training.
Poor Implementation of Safety Procedures
The National Safety Council has also found that in many cases, employers actually do have excellent safety measures in place. The problem is they aren’t implemented properly and workers cut corners when they’re in a hurry. Procedures like lockout/tagout are excellent ways to keep workers from being injured by equipment, but these procedures won’t work as effectively as they should if they aren’t being followed properly.
Workplaces where chemicals are frequently used need to make sure they stay on top of how old their inventory is and make sure employees are properly trained in how to handle the chemicals. The National Safety Council very frequently sees workplaces where chemicals are old enough to become dangerous and pose a hazard to workers.
Last, but certainly not least, the National Safety Council very commonly sees hazards associated with working in confined spaces. When a person is working in a confined space, special measures need to be taken to make sure the worker is able to get out quickly if something goes wrong. Far too often, confined spaces are not properly evaluated before a worker enters them or the worker is injured when their standby person was distracted.