Chances are, you’re tackling the obvious health and safety hazards throughout your company – but some common workplace risks can easily fly under the radar. Low-level safety breaches frequently become ‘business as usual’ working practices that leave your team exposed to accidents and injuries.
We’ve set out eight dangers that often go undetected – and expert tips on how to eliminate them.
Propped fire doors
It’s not uncommon for businesses to prop open their fire doors, especially on a hot day. But you absolutely shouldn’t. In the event of a fire, propped fire doors essentially become redundant as they enable the fire to spread quickly and uncontrollably.
These could come from anywhere – PCs, phones, kettles, toasters, TVs and fans are just a few of the most common culprits. Trailing cables create two types of hazards – trips and falls if an employee gets their foot tangled in them, and fire hazards if sockets or extension leads are overloaded.
Dirty welfare facilities and appliances
Rooms used for staff lunch breaks should be clean. Work surfaces, tables, fridges and microwaves should also be kept in a hygienic and sanitary condition. Staff should also be able to wash their hands in well-kept facilities, with soap, towels and hot/warm running water.
Quite simply, poor lighting prevents people from seeing the hazards that lie ahead of them. Lighting is particularly important on stairwells and external areas, so make sure car parks are bright enough to allow staff to safely access their vehicles after dark.
Under the influence
Certain times of the year – such as Christmas and around major sporting events – the effects of alcohol can present very real risks. If someone’s working while still intoxicated from the night before, no matter how little, it can impact their concentration, reaction times and all-round awareness.
Manual handling involves any activity of lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling, carrying, holding or moving an object that requires physical labour. Before staff engage in any manual handling, reduce the risks by assessing the item’s weight and where it’s set to be placed. Can handling aids be used? Can it be broken down into smaller quantities? Can another person help? Are there any obstructions? A few key questions can help prevent serious injury.
That stack of empty boxes from last week’s delivery. The pile of scrap paper waiting to be taken out. That broken chair blocking the hallway. They all pose slip, trip and fall hazards and obstruct emergency escape routes. Combustible items left lying around can also speed the spread of fire, so stay on top of everyday clear ups.
Stress and mental health
In order to keep your workplace and staff healthy, in line with an employer’s duty of care, you should keep an eye out for signs of poor mental health. When red flags are spotted, it’s important to take supportive steps as soon as possible and put measures in place to help reduce employee stress levels for the long term.