Horizon Platforms Blog

The Most Dangerous Activities at Work That You Should Avoid at All Costs

Workplaces have become safer environments for employees versus past generations. Improvements provided through technology, rising safety standards and increased awareness of and commitment to safety protocols and laws has led to an overall reduction in accidents since the 1980s (according to HSE data).

Whilst it is positive to see lower rates of injuries and accidents at work, dangerous mistakes are still being made by employees and businesses. To help provide guidance and raise awareness, Horizon Platforms has called on their many years of experience and put together the below advice on mistakes to avoid.

The Worst Health and Safety Mistakes to Make in Your Workplace

Undertaking Dangerous Activities Without Support and Supervision

If you are required to undertake an action as part of your job that could be dangerous, safety rules and regulations suggest you should be appropriately trained to undertake the task and where necessary and appropriate do so under supervision. Having a colleague on hand could be the difference between life and death should something go wrong, having supervision allows there to be a person allocated to alert other staff and call for medical assistance if needed.

Working During Adverse Weather Conditions

Not only can working during adverse conditions be hazardous to your overall health but many weather conditions are high risk for injury. In extreme cold, hypothermia and frostbite are real risks if you try to work when it is snowing or freezing, especially if not using the correct clothing or equipment. Ice naturally poses a whole host of risks, the biggest being causing slips and trips. Any weather which causes obstruction to your vision should be avoided, this could be severe hailstone or snowstorms. Likewise, working in extreme heat can cause psychological and physiological issues which increases the risk of accidents, injury, and health complications. Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, employers must “assess the risks to workers and put controls in place to protect them”. In short, make sure people are kept safe. If it is too dangerous, stop. A person’s life is more important than deadlines or profit.

Working at Height Without Proper Equipment or PPE

Thinking you can bypass recommended equipment and adopt makeshift ways to work at height significantly increases the risk of injury and could prove fatal. Falls from height is the biggest cause of fatal accidents in the workplace (HSE) and one of the leading causes of workplace non-fatal injury. Unfortunately, news stories about complacency or cutting corners when working at height are not uncommon. You should ensure you have access to Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (MEWPs) where required and provide the right personal protective equipment (PPE) to staff, such as harnesses, horizontal lifelines, work restraint systems and hard hats.

Neglecting Safety Training

Safety training is a necessary requirement for any job, there will always be processes to learn and protocols to follow to ensure safe working for any industry. Without having the correct knowledge of health and safety guidelines for your industry you can’t be expected to undertake tasks to a safe level, putting the health of you and/or your co-workers at risk.

Cutting Corners on Risky Tasks

Complacency, rushing or being pressurised could lead to attempting to bypass safety procedures, either in order to save a little time or money, which really isn’t worth the risk. No matter how small a shortcut may seem! Shortcuts could be not doing safety checks for operating machinery or completing dangerous tasks, not waiting for required timescales to complete jobs or making up ways to complete a task and ignoring safety guidelines altogether. For businesses, managers, and senior leaders, it is important to analyse the pressure staff are under which could lead to shortcuts being taken, for example, are deadlines realistic? Robust safety procedures and maintaining a tight relationship with a team with open communication to express concerns can allow for a culture where mistakes and shortcutting can be avoided.

Working When You Don’t Have a Clear Head

Mental health awareness has rightly become an increasingly important topic for many industries over the past few years, one which all employers are required to provide support and guidance for. The risk of workplaces and employees ignoring mental health could be life threatening in some situations. Manual work jobs can be high risk environments, meaning if you don’t have a clear head, your decision making may be impaired and lead to mistakes being made. Anxiety and depression are two of the most common mental health issues faced by workers, these could be exacerbated by events like bereavements, financial issues, or family troubles. Lack of sleep also has a huge impact on critical thinking skills and competency in the workplace. As an employer, talk to your employees, provide channels for regular check-ins, and offer time off when it is needed for mental health support.

Pressuring Employees to Work Overtime and Not Take Breaks

Organisational culture is set at the top and trickles down, meaning it is the responsibility of senior leadership to set the tone for a safe working environment. If you ignore or encourage staff to miss lunch breaks, work over hours without pay and not take regular breaks, you are inputting into a bad culture which can impact employee health and wellbeing. Burnout is the greatest risk caused by lack of breaks, allowing your employees time to switch off not only improves their mental wellbeing but allows them to recharge and have more energy and effort to give when they return to work. Other risks of not taking breaks could be sleep deprivation, unhealthy changes to diet and low mood. Not only do these risks affect employee health but they also contribute to lower work quality and higher risk of mistakes being made.

Leaving Machinery Switched On

This is a simple mistake but one which could be perilous for certain machinery. If you work with machinery, you should have received proper training and a health and safety induction before being charged with responsibility for it. Some machines run the risk of crushing body parts, causing permanent injury or even death. Sharp objects and heat from machinery are also high risks of severe injury. Whilst many modern machines are designed with enhanced safety features, it is important to familiarise yourself with the risks, the safety features and not be 100% reliant on safety features, stay vigilant and alert to risk. Always switch off any machinery that doesn’t need to be on and clearly communicate with your colleagues, so they know the status of machinery before going near.

UK commercial building owners and landlords must have gas appliances checked every 12 months and follow standards for electrical appliances within their buildings. Since 2012 building owners are also expected to take steps to find out if their buildings contain asbestos and follow the correct procedures for removing this safely.

With a triple crown of ISO accreditations, Safe Contractor and the hard to achieve IPAF Rental+, Horizon Platforms is proud of our attention to detail when it comes to safety and service in powered access hire. In fact, every time a customer hires a machine directly from us or via a partner network, it goes through a comprehensive pre-delivery inspection before the customer receives it. So, if you’re looking for an access platform provider with a partner mentality who guarantees [platform quality and safety, while being available 24/7 to support you in hitting your objectives, contact Horizon Platforms today.

Need powered access training for you or your team? We can help! At Horizon Platforms we offer a wide range of training courses in MEWP safety, head to our page for further information.