A Workplace Hazard

A Workplace Hazard

A workplace hazard is anything within the workplace that could potentially harm an employee or customer by causing an injury or accident. Workplace hazards

Workplace Hazards

What are Workplace Hazards?

A workplace hazard is anything within the workplace that could potentially harm an employee or customer by causing an injury or accident. Workplace hazards could include:

Chemicals or other hazardous substances

Exposure to harmful bacteria

Live electrical wiring

Slippery floors

Exposure to asbestos

Gas leaks

Or even less obvious potential hazards such as noise, vibration and working in a confined area

Risk Assessment

All businesses should carry out a risk assessment of the workplace to establish where the risks lie and work towards either eliminating those risks or reducing them to a safer level.

When carrying out a risk assessment all aspects of health and safety within the workplace should be considered and the severity of any potential risks should be evaluated.

All hazards or possible hazards should be recorded and all employees potentially at risk from those hazards should be informed.

Steps should then be taken to either eliminate or control the risks and this could include aspects such as

changing or replacing the equipment used within the workplace

Altering or improving the layout of the workplace

Adapting the work to better suit the employee

Providing employees with training and information to get a better understanding of how to avoid possible risks and carry out their daily routine safely

Ensuring that, where risks cannot be completely eliminated, staff take the appropriate measures to protect themselves such as wearing protective clothing, ensuring good ventilation when working with chemicals and making sure any spillages are cleared up immediately

Risk assessments should be reviewed on a yearly basis or more frequently if changes occur within the working environment.

Risk Assessment Legislation

In some circumstances there are specific health and safety legislation in place which should be adhered to when carrying out a risk assessment. These pieces of legislation include:

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH)

This piece of legislation involves:

The identification of hazardous or toxic substances within the workplace

The risks those substances present

The specific employees at risk from those hazardous substances

The legal obligation of the employer and employees with regard to those hazardous substances such as:

Ensuring the Maximum Exposure Limits (MELs) are not exceeded

Substituting a hazardous substance for a less hazardous substance where possible

Providing and utilising protective equipment

Adhering to stringent instruction

Implementing the appropriate emergency procedures

The Manual Handling Operations Regulations

This piece of legislation involves:

Assessing the particular task to be carried out

Assessing the employee who will be carrying out that task

Assessing the type of load the employee will be required to move

Assessing the environment in which the task will take place

Adhering to the lifting and lowering weights guidelines

Controlling manual handling where possible by implementing the use of lifting equipment and handling aids and making necessary changes to the working environment to reduce the risk of injury

The Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations

This piece of legislation involves:

Identifying the whereabouts of asbestos within the workplace

Assessing the risks posed by the asbestos

Reducing or removing those risks posed by the asbestos where possible or, if removal isn’t an option, making the area containing the asbestos as safe as possible

Informing employees of the presence and whereabouts of the asbestos to avoid disturbance

Accidents in the Workplace

If an employee has an accident in the workplace the accident must be recorded in the company’s accident book and, if the accident is of a serious nature, the employer is required to report it to the Health and Safety Executive or HSE.

If the accident occurred due to a fault on the employer’s behalf then the employee who suffered the injury may be able to put in a claim for compensation.

The injured employee should seek the advice of a personal injury solicitor who will be able to establish whether the individual has a case and, if so, will put the case together ready to file with the court.