Whether you’re working in a crèche or a nuclear power plant, all workplaces have their potential hazardous pitfalls. Some are hidden, some more obvious. Below, we’ve collated the top ten health and safety hazards in the workplace below.
- Communicable diseases. The spread of colds and flu is the most common health hazard in the workplace. Although they probably won’t have a long term effect on employees’ welfare, diseases can temporarily reduce a workforce, resulting in lower output. The problem can be aggravated by limitations on sick leave that pressurise employees into working when they are under the weather.
- Fire. Fire risk exists in almost all workplaces, but particularly those involving flammable materials and/or heating processes. Appropriate fire safety measures must be taken to reduce risk of injury. Sprinkler systems, alarms, fire extinguishers, and well-lit fire exits will help in the event of fire. A well-practiced fire safety procedure is also advisable.
- Electrocution. In work involving electric currents of dangerous voltages (over 50V AC or 120V DC), all necessary precautions should be implemented to avoid a shock. Electric shocks can result in burns, tachycardia, and death. Electrocution can cause fires, or may be the indirect cause of an injury sustained as a result of falling from ladders, scaffolding etc.
- Asbestos. If disturbed, asbestos releases tiny airborne fibres which, if inhaled, can cause respiratory diseases or certain types of cancer. There is no known way to remove these fibres from the lungs and no known cures for the problems they create.
- Trips and falls. Slippery or uneven flooring, loose cables or poor lighting can all lead to injury. Accidents of this type are the most common cause of injury at work, according to statistics from the Health and Safety Executive.
- Hazardous Substances. Exposure to hazardous substances, or prolonged exposure to less harmful ones, can result in short or long term injuries. Examples include carcinogens in dust, gas or carbon monoxide poisoning, or corrosive substances. These can cause cancers, burns and blindness if proper safety precautions are not adhered to.
- Noise. Prolonged exposure to loud noise, for example in factories, airports or music venues can cause permanent damage to hearing. Regular Noise Assessments can keep noise from going beyond safe levels, and Personal Protective Equipment can lessen the detrimental effects of prolonged exposure.
- Vibration. Constant use of vibrating tools or vehicles can result in Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) or Whole-Body Vibration (WBV). This can damage nerve systems, muscles, joints and circulation. Victims of HAVS can suffer from Vibration White Finger, whilst people with WBV can have chronic back pain.
- Vehicular accidents. Many types of work involve transportation in one form or another. Car accidents can lead to permanent brain injury or bodily disablement. Accidents involving Heavy Goods Vehicles transporting hazardous substances are particularly dangerous.
- Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). RSI is caused by repeated overuse of muscles and tendons, particularly in the hands, wrists, arms and back. This can be the result of many activities such as typing or constant use of certain tools. Proper risk assessment and ergonomic assessment can be a preventative method.
If you’ve sustained an injury at work, consult Injury Lawyers 4U to find out if you’re entitled to compensation.