Certificate IV OHS/WHS – Common Types of Hazards in the Workplace

Maintaining a safe workplace requires employers to identify and deal with potential hazards and you’ll learn how to identify these hazards in the Certificate IV in WHS now available through LMIT.

Each industry has its own set of hazards, but there are workplace hazards that are common across organisations. The hazards in this article are examples of typical hazards. By identifying and anticipating hazards, employers can prevent injuries and keep employees safe.

Computer Workstations

Computer workstations may seem harmless, but repetitive motion injuries such as carpal tunnel and muscular skeletal problems are common due to badly engineered workstations. The elements of a computer workstation need to be set up so that the body remains in a safe, neutral position and injuries are minimised.

These elements include: desks, monitors, keyboards, chairs, mouse, telephones, document holders, and wrist pads. There should be enough room in the workstation to move around and take short breaks from tedious tasks.

Basic Layout

  • Provide plenty of room between the desk and chair
  • Chair should support the lower back
  • Feet should be flat on the floor
  • Top of the monitor is eye level
  • The head and neck are level and aligned with the torso
  • Shoulders are relaxed
  • Elbows are supported
  • There is room for the mouse and keyboard
  • The wrists and hands are lined up with the forearms

Ergonomic Supports

We briefly discussed ergonomics with computer workstations. Ergonomics, in general, is used to make the demands of a job suit the needs of the workers. The science of ergonomics will increase productivity while decreasing injuries in the workplace.

Employees are at risk of injury when they engage in repetitive motions, heavy lifting, pushing, carrying, or working with their hands. There are ergonomic standards for each industry. It is essential that employees be trained in proper ergonomics so that they are aware of how injuries can be prevented.

Ergonomic Tips:

  • Bend at the knees
  • Lift with your legs
  • Take breaks
  • Exercise Frequently
  • Keep weight evenly distributed when seated and standing

Fire Prevention

Fires can happen anywhere. Every organisation needs to invest in fire prevention. The common causes of workplace fires are arson, cigarettes and electrical fires. Every employer needs to train employees how to prevent fires and act when they do occur.

Tips to Prevent Fires:

  • Keep the building clean and clear of debris
  • Make sure that alarms and other safety equipment are in working order
  • Keep fire doors closed
  • Do not smoke in areas not designated for smoking, and handle lighters and matches carefully
  • Teach employees how to use fire extinguishers
  • Implement an emergency evacuation plan

Staff Fitness & Wellness

More employers are taking steps to improve the health and fitness of their employees. It is in an employer’s best interest to invest in the wellness of employees. Healthy employees are more productive, take fewer sick days, and cost less in insurance premiums.

Ways to Improve Fitness and Wellness:

  • Provide healthy snacks at the office
  • Supplement gym memberships or have workout equipment at the office
  • Support stop smoking programs
  • Promote healthy nutrition and weight loss programs

Stress

Most Americans identify work as their main cause of stress. Stress, even more than diet, is linked to obesity for workers in sedentary jobs, according to research published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Employee stress costs employers money in terms of lost time, productivity, and illness. It is important to teach employees how to manage their stress.

Ways to Fight Stress:

  • Eat well: Choose fruits and vegetables over salty or sweet snacks.
  • Exercise: This will help you focus as it releases endorphins.
  • Prioritise: Learn to manage time wisely and balance work and life.

Workplace Violence

Workplace violence accounts for one quarter of work related deaths. Employers are responsible for the safety of employees and a workplace violence prevention program will help to build awareness and save lives. Workplace violence prevention programs teach employees how to identify and diffuse conflicts, manage stress, manage anger, protect personal safety, respect diversity and report potential problems.

How Employers Can Prevent Violence:

  • Screening: Use background checks and reference checks to hire stable individuals
  • Security: Implement a security protocol
  • Mediation:  Help employees find ways to resolve disputes
  • Balance: Create programs that will promote work and life balance
  • Assess: Hire a threat assessment team to watch for potential violence

LMIT delivers the Certificate IV in WHS and the Diploma in Work Health & Safety (WHS) Completely Online.  The Advanced Diploma in WHS is also available via RPL only.

Published by: LMIT

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