Deadly Workplace Operations You Thought Were Safe


Deadly Workplace Operations You Thought Were Safe

The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) says jobs are becoming more dangerous for American workers. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported 5,190 workplace fatalities in 2016, a seven percent increase from the previous year and the highest figure since 2008.

It’s no surprise, therefore, that businesses set up safety measures against common workplace hazards. These include transportation accidents, which accounted for one out of four fatalities. Companies also guard workers against the “fatal four” of construction: falling (38.75% of deaths), getting struck by objects (9.4), electrocuting (8.3), and getting crushed by collapsing structures (7.3).

Workers, however, should also watch out for operations that seem safe but are actually fatal or injurious. As a leading workplace consulting firm, BDeWees Consulting enumerates these silent hazards, so you could prepare for them amply.

Improper Housekeeping

Overlooking little things can have deadly circumstances. Clutter around emergency exits, for instance, hinders a safe egress during emergencies. Moreover, many warehouse and construction operations are conducted on eye level. So, workers overlook leaks, slippery floors, uncovered manholes, and litter that could lead to slips and falls.

Improper storage also poses a threat. For instance, even if the sprinklers are placed strategically all over the facility, overstacked racks limit their efficiency during fires.

Working in Confined Spaces

Confined spaces, such as tanks, chambers, and cellars, look harmless but carry a safety risk. These may acquire a toxic atmosphere from chemical deposits or seeping substances, for example. Effects include impaired judgment, unconsciousness, and death.

Workers may experience oxygen deficiency or enrichment, too. Too little air can suffocate workers, while too much can increase the risk of fires and explosions. Enclosed spaces could also raise temperatures to deadly levels.

Working with Noise

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that 22 million workers are exposed to dangerously high noise levels. In fact, in 2017, businesses paid over $1.5 million in penalties for not protecting workers from noise.

The agency sets the permissible exposure limit at 90 A-weighted decibels (dBA). Any higher could cause permanent ear damage. The NIOSH Noise Meter, however, shows that construction sites produce 100 dBA, while heavy equipment generates 120 dBA — unhealthy levels for the workers on site.

Working with Power Tools

In 2015, about 2 million American workers experience hand-arm vibrations from power tools like grinders, riveters, drills, and jackhammers. About half of them developed hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), whose symptoms include tingling, pain, and loss of color in the fingers.

HAVS is one of the top neuromuscular disorders in manufacturing and construction but it’s likely unrecognized and underreported. As a result, symptoms worsen and lead to painful attacks that last up to 15 minutes. In some cases, too much nerve and blood vessel damage results in a weak grip and gangrene.

Hiring a Safety Consultation Firm

There are many other hidden hazards in the workplace but you might not have the time to look over all of them.

Count on BDeWees Consulting to do this for you. We keep your facilities safe by uncovering hidden hazards, conducting safety audits and inspections, safety training programs, review of current safety topics, maintenance of safety data sheets, hazardous waste review, and more.

Let us help you build a culture of safety in your workplace. Contact us today about our consulting services.