Safety and security at the workplace should be a priority for workers. They must understand and remain cautious of workplace hazards that cause harm to their mental and physical wellbeing.
At the same time, employers must also implement and abide by proper health and safety procedures to address numerous hazards present at the workplace and keep their workers safe.
After all, worker safety and wellbeing directly affect their productivity and job satisfaction.
For employers to achieve optimum productivity levels, they need to be aware of workplace hazards and illnesses.
While each work environment has its collection of potential risks and dangers, some of the top threats deal with chemical exposure and contaminants, not to mention various physical and biological hazards.
With that in mind, let us look at a few hazards lurking around your workplace that you might not be aware of.
Asbestos is a dangerous mineral that occurs naturally as a mass of fibers. These fibers typically vary in texture from coarse to silky.
It is commonly used in many industries due to its heat and chemical resistance, strength, flexibility, and excellent frictional properties.
Asbestos is also used in manufacturing textiles, friction materials, insulation, and other products in the construction industry.
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Products that contain asbestos include:
- Cement sheets and pipes.
- Patching and taping compounds.
- Floor and ceiling tiles.
- Reinforcing fillers in paints and sealants.
OSHA estimates that over 500,000 employees work with asbestos products. Millions more are exposed because they work near or around areas where asbestos products are used.
However, such exposure can cause life-threatening diseases such as mesothelioma, a terminal type of cancer that leads to tumor growth on the lining of the lungs due to prolonged asbestos exposure.
That said, employees who work with or around insulation materials or friction products like brake linings and clutch facings are at a higher risk of contracting this disease.
So, talk with your employer and ask if there is a risk for exposure and confirm if their health and safety policy covers asbestos exposure.
Exposure to hazardous liquids.
Numerous businesses, such as those in the agricultural, medical, industrial, and sectors, utilize hazardous liquids, posing threats to their employees’ safety and health.
Typically, these hazardous liquids are present as acids in solvents, petroleum products, cleaning products, pesticides, paints, glues, and disinfectants.
Your employees can inhale the fumes let off by these hazardous liquids, spill them on their skin, or even swallow them accidentally.
This can result in burns, allergies, headaches, vomiting, poisoning, and several other health risks in workers.
Prevention is the best approach to limit employees’ exposure to hazardous substances, so business owners and managers should ensure that these dangerous liquids are stored in proper containers in their designated storage space.
Furthermore, the use of protective equipment like goggles and gloves should also be made mandatory to facilitate better handling of hazardous liquids.
At the same time, someone should also monitor and track the number of dangerous chemicals present in the workplace.
Mental health hazards.
In a study conducted on US citizens, 18 percent stated that they experienced mental health issues symptoms one month after starting a job.
Because of the multiple disappointments, perceived failures, and never-ending stress exposure at work, many individuals end up experiencing episodes of anxiety and depression without even realizing it.
On top of that, the stigma associated with mental health issues has forced us to think that what we’re experiencing isn’t normal.
That said, businesses worldwide should realize that mental health issues are just as critical to treat as other physical illnesses.
These disorders equally affect workers’ performance and reduce their determination and motivation levels.
For example, when an employee receives proper treatment for depression, they will experience fewer job-related accidents, reducing the number of absentees at work.
Radiation exposure is another health hazard present workers should be aware of. For example, induction furnaces and electric wires give off low-frequency radiation undetectable by a Geiger counter.
Furthermore, cellular phones and radio emitters can produce radiofrequency and microwave radiation.
In addition, lasers and heat lamps release low quantities of Infrared radiation, while research institutions, manufacturing plants, and healthcare facilities let off low amounts of Ionizing radiation.
Radiation doesn’t harm humans in low doses. But, long-term, continuous exposure to radiation can increase a person’s risk of developing cancer.
So, limit radiation exposure at the workplace by shielding yourself or keeping yourself away from the source of radiation.
You can also limit your exposure time to the radiation source and use a face mask or respirator when you have to.
Considering employees spend most of their time with their coworkers every day, transferring illnesses becomes a dreadful reality.
In fact, something as simple as a cold or cough of a single employee may be transmitted during talking, coughing, or sneezing as this infection is airborne.
Infectious diseases can pose severe health risks for workers, endangering their physical wellbeing and reducing their productivity levels in the process.
So, to eliminate this workplace hazard, you should encourage employees to practice caution and hygiene at the workplace.
This includes covering of mouth when coughing or sneezing, regular washing of hands, and getting immunization from infectious illnesses.
Moreover, if a particular worker is ill, end their shift and let them go home to recover. Finally, in case of an outbreak, business owners and managers should have appropriate health and safety policies in place to tackle pandemics and ensure worker health and wellbeing.
It may appear costly, but reducing or eliminating workplace hazards is a worthwhile investment of a business owner’s time and money.
After all, ignoring workplace hazards would undoubtedly invite expensive lawsuits. Not to mention, workers will be absent, down with injuries, and stressed if proper precautions aren’t made mandatory.
In the end, remember that your workers are the lifeblood of your company. The healthier, safer, and happier they are at the workplace, the more efficient and productive they will be.