Hazard Recognition

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Hazard Recognition

Regardless of the setting or industry you work in, hazards will be throughout every workplace. Some hazards are easy to identify and correct but are underlying hazards that are often overlooked which can account for many injuries or fatalities. Too often we become overly complacent in our work place, which hinders our ability to identify and correct hazards.

No matter how comfortable you may get on a job site does not mean you tune down your awareness. Once you train yourself to have a safety mindset and search for hazards it will become second nature. This will even help with unseen hazards such as poor lighting, extreme temperatures, overexertion and many more. A good practice is to have a meaningful tool box talk before each shift between the foreman and their crew. Also, a weekly safety meeting with the site safety representatives to address relevant topics, problems, questions and concerns.

Hierarchy of Controls

When encountering a hazard, it is best to take immediate, corrective action and rid it from the workplace. When doing so, it is best to use the hierarchy of controls. These are, in order, elimination, substitution, engineering controls, administrative controls, and PPE and a last resort. It is very important not to take shortcuts during this phase. PPE will always be the easiest fix, but never the safest. We need to try to eliminate, substitute, and use engineering controls and administrative controls first in order to take the most effective approach to correct the hazardous exposure to the employees.

Outside of construction sites, office settings also oppose their own unique hazards. Similar to construction, slips, trips and falls are the most common office setting injury. It is important to take precautions and think ahead before preforming tasks. Maintaining proper housekeeping is one of the best ways to prevent slips, trips and falls. Keeping objects and supplies out of designated walkways subsides a lot of trip hazards. Employee awareness and vision is also a leading cause in falls in the office. Reducing blind spots around corners and well illuminated areas will reduce the risk of injury to employees.

"Struck & Caught By Hazards"

Struck and caught by hazards can also be problematic throughout an office. Practices such as not fully shutting a file cabinet or desk drawer can run the risk of collision and potentially allowing the cabinet to fall onto the employee if struck by with enough force. Struck by hazards can be reduced if the workplace practices safe stacking of materials. Whether material is stacked on the ground and it becomes unstable or overloading shelves can result in serious injury.

Ergonomics

Lastly, another huge ongoing battle with an office setting is poor ergonomics. Workers in an office typically spend the majority of their day at a desk with access to a computer. As an employer, it is important to provide the workers with proper equipment to protect them from ergonomic injuries. Providing an ergonomically safe chair, keyboard and mouse can reduce the risk of injury tremendously and also increase production. Going as far as installing adjustable equipment further improves the work setting. If an employee spends the majority of his or her day on a computer the 20/20/20 rule is very important and should be recommended to use. This rule is simply every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. By doing this can reduce eye strain that can lead to vision problems, headaches and migraines.

Hazard recognition is a vital trait to have in any work setting whether it is a construction site or an office setting. Training and proper practices of hazard recognition will allow you to be able to identify visible and unseen hazards in the workplace. Do not allow yourself or others to become complacent as this can result in injury to themselves or others. Maintaining a keen mind and vision will allow you to excel and protect workers from injury. Amerisafe Group’s Certified Safety Professionals are trained to spot workplace hazards with their keen eye. Safety Management comes second nature to our professionals. Let our staff Pittsburgh Safety Consultants be your resource for identifying all of your workplace hazards and keep your company, safe.

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Author: Tyler Young, GSP

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