Some safety risks are very obvious.
That barrel oozing with the unidentifiable green liquid that kicks up little puffs of vapor every time a drop hits the floor. That giant crushing machine, with the precarious, wobbly foothold where you have to stand in order feed materials into the great blade-spinning maw. And a million other less dramatic high, sharp, toxic or slippery items stored around the workplace.
But other risks are less immediately evident. However, because they don’t stand out as much, these less apparent risks can, in their way, pose a greater threat. At least the oozing barrel and the precarious step atop the crushing machine demand care and attention. The invisible dangers, by definition, sneak up on you.
With that in mind, here are some of the invisible risks that might make your team less safe:
Tired workers make mistakes. As good as your safety protocols may be, they are only as effective as the people who implement them.
Make sure production quotas don’t push people too hard. Doll out overtime assignments with an eye to people’s long-term health.
Workers will sometimes ask, even beg, for unreasonable hours, looking to cash in on the opportunity for a fat paycheck. And if you’re desperate to fill an order or finish a project, you might be very tempted to let them work those nightmare shifts. But remember the long-term safety implications and save the workers from themselves.
Whirling machines. Steaming valves. Even the low whine of a computer or the music blaring into headphones workers use for a little pick up during the day. All these things can take a long-term toll on people’s hearing.
Be wary of the risk of loud or persistent noises. If your workplace involves a lot of noisy equipment, make sure workers have the appropriate hearing protection. And discourage workers from utilizing high-volume headphones to drown out the other office sounds.
Hearing loss isn’t the only injury that builds up over time. The workplace is full of chronic injury risk. Repetitive action injuries, like carpal tunnel syndrome, can contribute to lasting handicaps.
For these injuries, part of the danger comes from how unthreatening the causes can seem. Simple unthreatening actions, done hundreds and hundreds of times in succession…it’s hard to tell in the moment that something dangerous is taking place.
Tasks that involve repetitive motion should be limited. Workers should rotate through tasks rather than getting stuck in one loop for an entire shift. Meanwhile, make sure work stations are designed comfortably so that people’s postures remain comfortable and they don’t have to move in uncomfortable ways.
Working in intense heat or intense cold can cause damage in a surprisingly short period of time. The biggest risk, at least in terms of “invisible” dangers, can come from jobs that involve significant time outside.
Long stretches in the cold during the winter can cause frostbite. Long stretches in the heat during the summer can lead to dehydration or even heat stroke. Make sure employees who work outside have proper attire. Also, ensure that there are sufficient opportunities to take breaks indoors, with access to things like water or hand warmers.
Safety should be a team effort. Having the right workers makes that collaboration easy. Working with a strong recruiting partner, like LaborMax, ensures that you have the right team in place for a safe and efficient workplace.
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