Workplace safety isn’t just something you can ignore or only do a little about – if you’re an employer, you need to take workplace safety extremely seriously, as it could be that there are dangers in your workplace you hadn’t even realized were there.
It’s likely that, as a good boss and conscientious business owner, you’ve dealt with the hazards that were visible and urgent and the ones that were easy to address. However, that doesn’t mean that your workplace is a safe one, and it’s wise to understand what other dangers might be lurking. With that in mind, read on to discover some of the ways your workplace might be dangerous (whether you knew about it or not).
When it comes to workplace safety, ergonomics plays a big role in keeping people comfortable and able to work. Poor ergonomics can lead to all kinds of health issues, and these might even go unnoticed for some time, meaning more and more damage continues to be done until the worker is diagnosed with something or just can’t keep working because they’re in a lot of pain.
Poor posture is a big problem for ergonomics, and sitting or standing awkwardly for hours at a time will definitely cause issues here, including back pain, neck pain, and even carpal tunnel syndrome. To bypass this issue, it’s just a simple case of upgrading desks, chairs, footrests, and so on to be ergonomic – this will help people improve their posture and be in less danger of any injury.
Another way that your office might be dangerous without you knowing it is down to bad lighting. If the lighting in an office isn’t good enough, it can lead to eye strain, headaches, eye fatigue, and, ultimately, decreased levels of productivity. No one can work when they’re not feeling good, and with bad lighting, there is also no motivation to do more work as it’s hard and uncomfortable.
Proper lighting design which should include plenty of overhead lights, as much natural light let in as possible, and good task lighting, means that your employees won’t suffer from eye strain anymore, and workplace productivity should increase.
Indoor Air Quality
The air quality in a workplace can have a detrimental impact on workers’ health and wellbeing, and there are two main reasons for this. The first is that poor indoor air quality can actually lead to mould and mildew because of the lack of proper ventilation. This can lead to breathing problems, especially for those who have allergies and respiratory issues to begin with. Luckily, this isn’t too much of a problem to deal with once you are aware of it – check for water leaks and damp spots and fix them quickly, and your mould problem will be much less of an issue.
Another indoor air quality problem is airborne allergens and chemical pollutants. Harmful chemicals from cleaning agents, paints, and general office equipment can cause problems with breathing, even if you don’t have a breathing illness to begin with. Having good ventilation is crucial to help with this, and so is wearing the right PPE when handling these chemicals. However, something that can really make a difference is switching to eco-friendly cleaning products as there won’t be any chemicals to make people ill; these products are all-natural.
It can also be a good idea to invest in some indoor plants for your office. These not only look good and make the office a more enjoyable place to work, but they are natural air purifiers so they’ll make it safer too.
We’re so used to using electrical tools and machinery in our day-to-day lives that it can become easy to forget how dangerous they are, especially as the electricity itself is invisible. One problem could be overloaded electrical circuits that happen when you use too many plugs in an outlet, and this can lead to fires in the worst instances. Or it might be that cords and wires are damaged, and anyone handling them could get a shock. Another reason for electricity to be dangerous is using old equipment where the electrical components are no longer safe in line with various regulations.
This is why regular inspections are important to check in case there is an issue, and having an expert do a risk assessment every year is crucial, as this can prevent any small issues from getting bigger. You can also use this opportunity to train your team on how to be safer around electricity, as this alone could help prevent a number of accidents.
It could be that there is a lot of noise in your workplace, and this is especially likely to be the case if you work with machinery, although any office space can be noisy if there are a lot of people there or it’s close to a busy road or even an airport, for example. You might not think that a bit of noise is too much of a problem, but excessive noise volume can have negative effects on your employees’ health and productivity. For example, constant exposure to loud noise levels can cause permanent hearing damage and lead to conditions such as tinnitus. On top of this, persistent noise can be irritating and cause stress levels to rise, which will reduce concentration and negatively impact employee productivity.
The best thing to do is to start with specialist noise testing to determine what levels you might be dealing with and how much of an issue this could be. Once you know this, you can take the next steps to help your team, which might include providing PPE like ear defenders, creating designated quiet areas, or even moving offices entirely if need be – you need to put your team’s health and safety first, so this could be the right thing to do.
Have a Good Culture of Safety
You can’t be the only one in charge of ensuring your workplace is a safe one; this should be a team effort, so it needs a good culture of safety to help everyone stay protected. This starts with good training so that people can identify hazards, know how to wear PPE and use equipment, and how to report something when they find a problem.
It’s wise to encourage feedback, as this can sometimes be the only way you’ll know there is a problem, and the important thing to do is to put things right as soon as you hear about it. This will not only keep your team safe but will also let them know you are taking care of them, which should boost their productivity even more.