There is so much focus nowadays on work health and safety (WHS), often referred to as occupational health and safety (OHS), that it can be difficult to imagine any hazards escaping our attention. Yet there are several risk factors that are overlooked simply because they may not be deemed significant enough for serious attention. Here are four workplace hazards that often escape attention.
Noise does not need to be of the eardrum-shattering variety to be a hazard. Workplaces with obvious noise hazards, such as factories, construction sites and places where loud machinery is used, are usually well served with warnings and directives to use some form of hearing protection. Indeed, some workplaces prohibit access to people without it. Yet other workplaces contain noise hazards ranging from loud music and ambient noise, such as in pubs and cafes, to noisy chatter in large offices and call centre environments. Work Health and Safety consultants such as DRA Safety Specialistscan identify overlooked noise hazards and develop strategies to mitigate them.
2. Harsh Lighting
Fluorescent lighting is favoured in workplaces because it is relatively cheap to run and replace. Many people, however, find the harsh white light of fluorescent tubes irritating and a cause of fatigue, headaches and stress – particularly when the tubes rapidly flicker. This problem can be exacerbated by surroundings that reflect this light in all directions. At the enterprise level, this hazard can be mitigated by using fluorescent tubes emitting slightly softer yellow light or perhaps switching to efficient LED lighting that does not flicker and comes in a variety of colours friendly to workplace environments.
3. Faulty Electrics
One hidden hazard difficult to spot without expert help is faulty electrics. This may include old wiring that has deteriorated, or damaged electrical appliances and tools with the potential to shock unsuspecting users. In workplace settings, it is now mandatory to have electrical appliances, tools, leads and power outlets tested and tagged on a regular basis by authorised people. This practice goes a long way towards preventative hazard mitigation, but you still needvigilant staff to report any hazards noticed between scheduled testing.
If you notice exposed wiring or faulty leads and appliances, be sure to report them to your WHS representative for further action.
Most customers fall into the broad spectrum of wonderful to deal with, to indifferent, to vexatious. And, yes, there are too few of the first and too many of the last. But in a league of their own are the customers who, through verbal or physical acts, create their own class of workplace hazard. Angry, abusive and uncooperative customers can cause severe mental stress in workplaces and sometimes physical injuries through attacks while under the influence of drugs, alcohol, an unpleasant demeanour or just a really bad day. Employers can mitigate your risk of violence from customers through conflict management training and appropriate security where applicable.
This is just a small selection of the myriad examples of hidden or often overlooked workplace hazards. Why not share your ideas and experiences below?