Safety and health in the workplace
Excessive workload over a prolonged period of time can cause employees to fall ill. The key to reducing employees’ workloads lies in identifying the risk.
Hazards associated with machinery and tools
The machinery and other work equipment provided in the workplace must be safe to use. Risk assessments must examine each piece of machinery separately and ensure at least that
- access to the danger zones around the moving parts of the machinery has been prevented
- there are no exposed cutting or crushing components or other dangerous factors such as exposed hot surfaces
- the machinery is equipped with a safety device that prevents it from accidentally starting up again after a power cut or undervoltage in the mains
- the risk of limbs becoming in contact with the moving parts of the machinery has been prevented
- accidental operation of the machinery has been prevented
- access to the danger zones around any automated machinery has been prevented while the machinery is running
- the machinery can be serviced safely, and
- any machinery and equipment that must be inspected have been inspected in accordance with the applicable rules and regulations.
Hazards associated with the work environment
Any danger of falling always requires immediate action
Falls result in several serious occupational accidents and fatalities every year. Risk assessments must pay particular attention to identifying any areas where there is a danger of falling. All scaffolding must be fitted with structures to prevent falls, and action must be taken to prevent slippery surfaces. In addition, safe access must be ensured to any areas that need to be accessed regularly for production, adjustment or maintenance reasons.
Managing clutter with the help of risk assessments
Risk assessments can help to keep the work environment neat and tidy as long as the risks associated with clutter – an increased risk of accidents and psychosocial workload resulting from having to look for work equipment and unnecessary interruptions – are identified.
In respect of indoor air issues, monitoring is integral to risk assessments
Any indoor air issues in a workplace must be addressed holistically in connection with risk assessments by monitoring employees’ health in cooperation with occupational health care professionals and testing indoor air quality with the help of engineering systems, for example.
Occupational health and accidents: Accident prevention (page will be published soon)
Biological, chemical and physical hazards
It is important for risk assessments to also cover any exposure agents associated with working conditions that can lead to illness. At least the following issues should be addressed:
- whether the work performed by employees exposes them to any hazards resulting from biological agents (such as the risk of contracting an infectious disease)
- whether the employees’ work exposes them to chemical agents
- whether there is radon radiation in the workplace
- whether there is a risk of an explosion in the work environment
- whether employees are exposed to cigarette smoke, and
- whether the employees’ work exposes them to asbestos.
A written risk assessment is required if there is an evident risk of exposure to biological or chemical health hazards inherent in employees’ work.
Noise, vibration and exposure to heat can put employees’ health in danger
Noise and vibration can lead to occupational diseases if employees are not properly protected. If there is reason to suspect excessive levels of exposure, a noise and vibration abatement plan must be drawn up.
Risk assessments also need to take into account any employees who are exposed to excessive heat (including in hot summer weather) or temperatures that are cold enough to endanger their health.