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6 Often-Ignored Workplace Hazards

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While you’re focusing on meeting the New Zealand Health and Safety at Work Act‘s standards, don’t overlook significant workplace hazards that could easily go undetected. Not every workplace hazard will be glaringly apparent to you or your management team. More importantly, NZ safety legislation doesn’t address all possible risks.

Why should you address small problems, even those not required by health and safety legislation? Safety in all of its forms should always be a priority. But if that’s not enough, consider this: your employees are the most valuable asset you have, and their health directly reflects that of your business. When you’re ready to update your health and safety policy, keep an eye out for not-so-obvious hazards like these.

Overloading Power Supplies

Offices, especially those that utilize many computers, are prone to using power strips and surge protectors to get more use out of their electrical outlets. Both devices serve different purposes but increase the number of available outlets, allowing you to plug in more equipment in one space.

Surge protectors help protect your equipment in the case of a sudden electrical surge, but they don’t make it safer to plug in as many items as you want. Each power strip and surge protector has a recommended output (that is, the power being drawn through it by plugged-in equipment). Exceeding this could lead to an electrical fire. Be sure to read the included safety instructions to reduce the risk.

Workplace Bullying

Your health and safety training/courses probably cover workplace social conduct, but NZ health and safety legislation says little about it. Instances of hostile work environments often go unreported, lulling managers into a false sense of security. By that same token, if bullying goes unreported, how can you take action to stop it?

To establish a healthy social environment in your workplace, you must make open communication available between the staff and management at all times. Your health and safety training for all staff should stress the importance of honesty, trust, and confidentiality. Victims of workplace bullying often choose to remain silent because they’re embarrassed or fear retaliation. You must do your part to dispel these fears and address such concerns.

Workplace hostilities are a significant source of stress for victims. If left unchecked, they could lead to further emotional, physical, or mental harm.

workplace hazards - bullying

Personal Hygiene

There isn’t a universal practice to ensure good hygiene in the workplace. This is especially true with NZ workplace safety. The frequency with which your employees should clean their hands and other exposed areas depends on what substances they come into contact with and how often.

Ensure your health and safety manual outlines any potentially dangerous substances employees may interact with as part of their work. On top of handling instructions and emergency information, include instructions on how to best clean exposed skin, with what cleaning agents, and for how long they should wash.

These instructions have likely been affected by COVID-19 and social distancing has likely shifted the way in which employees are situated, scheduled, and otherwise coordinated in the workplace. While there is a light at the end of the tunnel, it is more crucial now than ever to remain vigilant and communicate these standards with your employees.

Poor Workplace Lighting

Managers of indoor office spaces understand the importance of utilising the right level of artificial light in the workplace. Often their focus almost falls on ensuring the lights aren’t too bright to prevent eye-strain. However, low levels of light can be just as dangerous to long-term vision health.

If your employees work with electronic screens or monitors, encouraging them to take breaks at regular intervals can reduce eyestrain. However, you can take other steps to regulate your lighting. You can install adaptive lighting, which will adjust itself based on light from other sources. During the day, you should allow more natural light to fill the room, where possible. Rely more on electric light fixtures in the evening or during cloudy weather.

Stairways

It’s unavoidable for any building with more than one floor to utilise stairs, and you and your workers likely use stairs every day without much concern. It’s simple enough to ensure stair safety by keeping them unobstructed and securing railings, but stair safety and usage doesn’t end there.

Do your employees know when they should take the elevator over the stairs? Does your lighting make each step easy to see? You can eliminate many stair-related accidents and injuries if you train your employees to take their time when climbing or descending steps, watch where they are going, and avoid the stairs entirely when carrying heavy loads.

workplace hazards - stairways

Poor Workplace Ventilation

Workplaces that deal with biohazards already make proper ventilation a chief concern, but they shouldn’t be the only ones. Maintaining good air quality is key to maintaining the good health of your employees.

Besides having air ventilation systems in place, you’ll want them professionally serviced regularly to keep them clean. If you don’t, mould and dust can build up and cause illness, especially so in overly humid or excessively dry environments.

Avoid Workplace Hazards – Stay Current with Workplace Health and Safety in NZ

NZ safety requirements are the best place to start improving your company’s health and safety courses/training. HasTrak is here to help you navigate these laws and implement them into your workplace.

Our consultants are experts at developing health and safety policies that meet and exceed NZ safety standards. Contact our management and consultancy team today to learn more about how we can reshape your company’s future for the better.

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