How Can You Identify Occupational Hazards in Your Business?
You may hear the phrase “occupational hazards” used often if your business is in an industry known for such conditions or problems. However, you may not be sure exactly what is classified under this broad term. If you are new in your position, company, or industry, you need to know how to identify these hazards so you can deal with them.
Ask these questions
The first step in identifying hazards in the workplace is to ask a few basic questions.
- Has anyone been hurt or are they hurt now?
- Has anyone complained of injuries or symptoms?
- Where are the problems occurring?
- What are the surrounding conditions?
There are two broad categories for safety in the workplace: health hazards and safety hazards. Health hazards are things that can cause long-term issues or health concerns, such as chemicals, biological agents, physical conditions, or even stress.
Safety hazards generally cause injuries more than illnesses. These can include slips and falls, fire and explosions, accidents in a vehicle, being hit by machinery or other objects, or even violence.
Safety hazards are often easier to identify and correct than health hazards. The consequences of these hazards often show up quicker in workers as well. Health hazards may not be seen right away and the effects may not show up for weeks, months, or even years after exposure. But both types of hazards can cause serious consequences for the worker and for the business.
How to Prevent These Hazards or Deal with Them Responsibly
If you run a large company, it is best to have a person designated to locating hazards and creating a policy on dealing with them. For instance, it is important to know what chemicals are used in all products at a worksite. Choose replacements that are safer if possible. If not, you must have a procedure for how to handle these products safely. They must be labeled as hazards so all employees know to use safe handling procedures.
All policies and procedures for hazards must be reviewed and managed to ensure the information is still accurate and meets the needs of the employees.