Small Business Brief

Safety & Loss Prevention

Your Ultimate Guide to Work Safety: How to Identify Hazards in the Workplace

How to Identify Hazards in the Workplace

It doesn’t matter where you work, there’s a hazard in your office. As a business owner or an employee, it’s your job to identify hazards. Here’s your guide.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were approximately 2.9 million injured workers in the private sector in 2016. Many of these injuries were preventable.

The most common non-fatal injuries at work are from trips and falls, mishandling equipment, and improper lifting techniques. There are also some less obvious hazards such as chemical or biological ones.

Let’s go over some of the best practices to identify hazards at our workplaces to protect ourselves and our team.

How To Identify Hazards At Work

All safety hazards at work fall into one of the four following categories. Creating a checklist at work that includes all four will improve workplace safety.

Physical Hazards

Physical hazards come from handling or being around dangerous objects. At the beginning of each workday, do a walk-through of your workplace and make sure all paths are clear and free of clutter. Remember to look up to make sure something isn’t about to fall.

If your job involves a lot of machinery and equipment, make sure you have all manufacturer safety instructions around. Place safety signs and protective gear in the correct places.

Ergonomic Hazards

Ergonomic hazards come from the improper use of our bodies. This could be someone pulling a muscle because they were lifting heavy objects the wrong way or someone whose wrists hurt because of frequent typing.

To prevent these hazards, make sure each employee gets safety training and remind people to take their mandatory work breaks. Taking short breaks is the best way to reduce ergonomic hazards from repeated motions.

Read here to find out more about training employees.

Chemical Hazards

Chemical hazards come from substances that can harm your employees. This could be due to improper exposure, use, or spillage. Symptoms of chemical hazards include burns, irritation, sensitivity, sudden sickness, and illnesses caused by long-term exposure.

To prevent chemical hazards, make sure you read all product labels, handling instructions, and always provide safety equipment for all your employees. In addition, always make sure chemicals are clearly labeled and stored properly.

Biological Hazards

Bacteria and viruses that can make us sick are what causes biological hazards. These spread through the air, contact, or bodily fluids. The best way to prevent biological hazards is to keep your work environment clean.

At the end of each day, make sure you wipe down used surfaces with disinfectants. This includes counters, desks, kitchen utensils, and work equipment. If someone is sick, make sure they stay home and only return when they’re well. After all, a healthy employee is a productive employee.

A Safe Environment For All

Every workplace is different and has different work hazards. To identify hazards at your job, start by observing the processes, activities, and substances that your employees do every day.

Then, assess the hazards that are present and provide the information employees need to protect themselves.

If you would like more ideas to improve your business, check out our blog today!