Health & Safety Watch: NSC Lists 7 Common Workplace Hazards

The National Safety Council (NSC) employs a team of consultants who visit worksites to run safety audits. They have seen a great many different types of hazards, but a few are spotted over and over again. In the agency’s magazine, Safety + Health, three NSC consultants relate the top seven workplace hazards in hopes that you can correct as many as possible before an accident occurs or you are visited by OSHA enforcement.

  1. Heights – Falling hazards are the most frequently cited by OSHA. This includes not wearing fall prevention PPE, not having proper railings, improper ladder use and non-compliant scaffolding. It is also important to have a written fall protection program.
  2. Housekeeping – Many worksites have unnecessary clutter blocking emergency exits, electrical panels and fire extinguishers. Trash, clutter and spilled liquids can also create slip-and-fall hazards. Time could be set aside at the beginning or end of shifts for cleaning.
  3. Electrical – Although blocked circuit-breakers and electrical panels are common, another electrical hazard often seen are related to the overuse or improper use of extension cords. Extension cords can create both trip hazards and shock hazards, especial when daisy chained together.
  4. Forklifts – Just like standard trucks and automobiles, one of the leading causes of forklift accidents is distracted driving. When forklift operators try to work too fast, they start taking shortcuts, such driving with too large a load. It is critical for employers and supervisors to react with authority when such instances are noticed.
  5. Lockout/Tagout – Lockout/tagout looks great in a written safety program, but often, operating procedures are ignored. This usually occurs for three reasons: complacency, rushing and being unfamiliar with the equipment. Even if all procedures are followed, injuries can still occur because of faulty equipment.
  6. Chemicals – A control system must be in place for all chemicals purchased and used. In addition, each employee must know how and when to use these chemicals. Sometimes chemicals are over ordered, which leads to expired, unstable substances. Injuries can also occur when chemicals are transferred between containers.
  7. Confined Spaces – Confined spaces are extremely hazardous. Employees can get stuck, or they may be exposed to a dangerous atmosphere. In most cases, a permit is required to access confined spaces. This is where planning really pays off.

While the above list is not comprehensive, checking your worksites for these hazards can prevent injuries, illnesses and even fatalities. For further information and for a free safety consultation, contact federal OSHA, your state’s OSHA or another state safety authority.