Workers have to deal with numerous environmental hazards while doing their job. Factors like a messy workplace, spillage, unclean water, and lack of protective gear can be highly detrimental to their health. Exposure to these conditions increases the likelihood that your employees may fall sick, severely injure themselves, or in extreme cases, may even become permanently disabled.
Environmental hazards pose a barrier in any functional workplace, which is why it is crucial to eliminate them. Not only are workplace injuries financially crippling for your company, but they are also highly tragic to witness and hear about. Therefore, the only way forward is to identify these workplaces’ hazards and understand how they can impact the employees.
How Can A Manager Look after Employees?
Clearing up a workspace, and ensuring it is safe for workers to operate on, is a multifaceted job. At a time, hundreds of workers may be doing their job in one area. Consequently, if they have to put up with problems like poor air quality and sustain injuries from using power tools, it can put their lives at risk. As a manager, it falls on your shoulders to assess, evaluate and propose practical remedies to contain the situation.
Hence, as a manager, before assigning your workers their tasks, you need to do your due diligence in recognizing all potential hazards and curbing them. One way you can do this is by ensuring you have relevant educational qualifications, preferably a safety management degree that gives you the exposure, knowledge, and expertise which puts you in a better position to make informed choices.
It includes training workers on using proactive gear, teaching equipment safety, and ensuring that the work site has been cleared of most potential hazards. You may further educate your employees on maintaining workplace hygiene, what to do in case they get injured, and how to store chemicals and fluids to prevent contamination.
What Are Possible Environmental Hazards?
1. Chemical Hazards
Specific workspaces like factories and large-scale industries use chemicals in their manufacturing process. So your employee will need to work with large tubs of these solvents around the clock.
In general, the chemicals your workers need to use may be skin irritants, carcinogens (cancer-causing), or may irritate the respiratory lining. Some acids are also highly corrosive and can burn the skin without the proper gear. This is why it is essential to store these chemicals properly in customized containers that do not react with them or break easily.
Your employee should know the chemistry behind mixing and adding solvents to prevent causing an explosion or a highly toxic chemical reaction. Workers also need to wear safety equipment at all times. These include a chemical respirator, rubber gloves, and protective overalls to save their bodies from harm.
2. Biological Hazards
Biological hazards refer to all the components found in the environment that can cause harm. These include viruses, bacteria, toxic gases, and contaminated water and food. Your employees are always at risk of getting sick at work, bacteria and viruses are all around you, and they can impact a worker’s immunity anytime.
Workers who need to do their job outdoors are exposed to the soil, insects, sewage, and mold. Soil is home to many microorganisms, including tapeworms; upon ingestion, these parasites can make your employee sick and grow in their gastrointestinal tract, leading to diarrhea and even vomiting. At the same time, contaminated water can result in cholera, dysentery, and typhoid. If the water has residues of arsenic in it, there is a high chance of kidney failure.
As it is impossible to eradicate biological hazards, your best bet is to limit exposure to them. Your workers need protective gears that need to get binned and trashed in a particular way so they don’t release contaminants into the air. Workers need access to filtered water and a shower station to wash up after they get done with the day’s work. They should also have clean soap, sanitizer, and a designated area to eat and drink away from biological hazards.
3. Natural Hazards
Earthquakes, floods, and tsunamis are unpredictable forces of nature. When these events occur, workers can encounter numerous problems, such as getting trapped in confined spaces or under the building, may get carried away by strong currents, or getting injured in the debris. Flooding and large bodies of water can cause drowning, and workers may asphyxiate if they inhale minute quantities of liquid. This is what makes natural hazards highly dangerous and extremely lethal. Therefore, you must have a disaster management plan in place long before these events occur. A recovery plan helps employees prepare for a natural hazard, know how to pull themselves away from harm’s way, and check into safe houses.
Additionally, technology is your greatest asset in looking for natural hazards, always reading up on forecasts, searching for reports of a possible event, and staying in touch with the changing climate.
4. Physical Hazards
Before any worker starts doing their job, they need to survey where they will be working. It helps them eliminate environmental issues like giant boulders, cover maintenance holes, and prevent a sinkhole from forming. If workers begin operating on unprepared and uneven land, chances are they will get hurt. You should also ensure that your employees are not outdoors during extreme weather patterns. If it’s too hot or snowing, you may need to postpone the project. They should also not be allowed to drive during bad weather since the lack of visibility and slippery roads can cause accidents.
Furthermore, workers should always check for radiation in the area, take care of live wires, and never leave equipment around. These can lead to falls, injuries, and electrocution.
As a manager, ensure you develop personal safety standards such as wearing grapples while climbing tall buildings, never driving a large vehicle in crowded areas, and using proper lighting when working on any site.
Worker safety should be the primary concern for any company. This is because the injuries employees can sustain at work can severely impact them with some wounds, leading to permeant disabilities. Hence, to protect your workers from harm, you need to establish a safety protocol that details all the potential risks a worker can face on the job and how to handle them.
Some of these threats include exposure to chemicals and infectious diseases that can introduce new illnesses in the community. Moreover, other hazards include consuming or inhaling contaminants, a sudden natural disaster, and an unsafe physical environment riddled with exposed wires, sinkholes, and dangerous power tools are thrown about. All it takes is one step in the wrong direction for chaos to ensue.