How to mitigate workers’ health and safety risks

Many companies do their best to ensure their employees’ safety on the job, but there’s always room for enhancement. Think about how many job injuries every year: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were over 3 million nonfatal injuries and another 4,679 fatal injuries in workplaces in 2014.

These figures are just mind-boggling. But that doesn’t mean accidents can’t happen in the workplace regardless of safety measures. In truth, your company can take several vital measures to reduce the dangers to its employee’s health and safety on the job:

In this post, we’ll look at some of the health and safety risks employees encounter in different workplaces and the steps businesses can take to eliminate or mitigate such threats.

Types of workplace health and safety risks and hazards

A vital aspect of any risk evaluation is understanding the distinction between hazards and risks.

We say there are hazards when there is a chance of becoming hurt, sick or dying at work. Equipment, hazardous substances, unsafe work procedures, and careless employees contribute to an unhealthy working environment.

That said, a hazard is anything that could cause injury to people or property or that could have negative consequences for their health.

On the other hand, workplace risk is defined as “the chance or likelihood of being sick or hurt”- the probability that an employee would experience unfavorable health outcomes if subjected to a hazard.

The potential dangers and threats would change from workplace to workplace. Nonetheless, I’ll list a few typical ones below.

  • Safety risks and hazards
  • Physical risks and hazards
  • Biological risks and Hazards
  • Chemical risks and hazards
  • Environmental risks and hazards
  • Workplace organization risks
  • Ergonomic risks and hazards


  1. Safety risks and hazards

Safety concerns rank first when it comes to potential dangers in the job. Workers who have direct contact with machines or are employed on construction sites are particularly vulnerable to these dangers. Risks to workers’ health and safety include unsanitary or hazardous working environments.

The National Safety Council reports that falls among workers resulted in 805 fatalities and 211,640 injuries severe enough to need time away from work in 2020. The majority of dangers in the workplace are related to safety. Here are some of them:

  • Small, confined areas
  • Things like dangling wires, ice, and other potential trip hazards
  • Working from elevated surfaces like ladders, scaffolding, roofs, etc., increases the risk of a fall
  • A worker may accidentally contact a moving portion of machinery if it is not adequately guarded
  • Poor wiring, frayed wires, and missing ground pins all constitute potential fire and electrocution risks
  1. Physical risks and hazards

Physical dangers may be the most obvious threat to your safety at work, and they don’t necessarily have to be something you can see or touch. Still, any environmental condition that can cause injury to a person’s body without direct contact is considered a physical hazard. That includes working under extended periods of severe weather.

Physical hazards may include:

  • Long periods spent outside under direct sunlight/UV light
  • Compressed gasses
  • Heat and cold waves (temperature extremes)
  • Continual exposure to loud noise
  • Electromagnetic fields, radio waves, and other forms of electromagnetic radiation
  1. Biological hazards

Biological risks, often known as biohazards, are broadly defined as any potentially harmful biological substance. Risk of injury, illness, or infections from contact with living organisms, such as infection from body fluids and blood from pets, animals, humans, or infected plants.

Examples of biological hazards include:

Bacteria and viruses are prevalent, especially during pandemics. Some of these viruses are COVID-19, flu, and cold.

Other dangerous bacteria includesalmonella and E. coli,which can cause severe illness or even death in people with compromised immune systems, such as the elderly or young. It’s common for humans and animals to bring them in, but they can also naturally occur in the ground there.

Vegetation, pollen, and fungi: Although seemingly harmless, plants around the house pose several security risks. Outdoor poison ivy may produce skin burning and irritation, while indoor varieties like oleander can trigger a severe rash, anxiousness, dizziness, chest pain, and vomiting, even convulsions if consumed.

Other biological risks may include:

  • Insect bites
  • Blood and other body fluids
  • Bird and other animal droppings

These risks are common to employees in various environments such as emergency response, nursing homes, daycares, service industries, hospitals, and laboratories.

  • Chemical risks and hazards

Employees face chemical dangers whenever they come into contact with any chemical product at work (gas, solid, or liquid).

Image alt text: rig workers wearing personal protective clothing to prevent workplace health and safety risks.

Author credit: By National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) from USA – Air Sampling Equipment, Public Domain,

Any of the following can contain chemicals that pose a risk to humans:

  • Pesticides
  • Welding vapors, chemical fumes, and other similar harmful gases
  • Cleaning supplies, paints, acids, and solvents are all examples of liquids that might be dangerous if they are not correctly labeled.
  • Inflammable and combustible substances, such as explosive chemicals; gasoline, and solvents


  1. Workplace organization risks

These are health and safety risks that stem from problems in the job:

Occupational stress, exhaustion, and burnout:Major contributors to occupational stress, burnout, and weariness in most sectors include intrinsic job demands, longer working hours, poor work organization, and inadequate physical and moral support.

Other organizational hazards may include:

  • Workplace violence and assaults
  • High demanding or intense jobs
  • Lack of respect between employees and employers


  1. Environmental hazards

These are risks that are ever-evolving as a result of the ever-more-unpredictable and harsh weather and climate.

Unfortunately, we have no control over climate; the more we can do to prepare for weather difficulties and hazards. But on the brighter side, there can be somedegree of predictability from the onset of different seasons and the development of meteorology.

The following are some instances of environmental dangers:

  • Extremely loud noises that pose a health risk
  • Radiation at potentially lethal doses
  • Persistent and heavy rain
  • Severe temperatures like the case of extreme heat waves
  • Environmental pollution (chemical or air)
  • Unreliable infrastructure
  • Dangerous organisms
  • Deadly creatures or animals

Another hidden danger to health and safety is:

Workplace violence and harassment: Workplace violence statistics are alarming. The latest studies indicate that 1.5 million assaults occur annually in various workplaces.

Workplace violence and harassment can take many forms, including but not limited to:

  • Spreading rumors and lies about someone
  • Property damage, theft, and vandalism
  • Physical assaults
  • Psychological trauma
  • Anger-induced concerns like rape or murder

How to manage workers’ health and safety risks

Workplace management includes the oversight of health and safety risks. To protect their employees from potential harm, businesses should conduct workplace risk assessments to identify potential workplace threats and implement appropriate mitigation strategies.

Prevention measures for workplace stress, exhaustion, and burnout

In cases where you have realized your employees are stressed and tired, you should:

  • Ensure your employees receive consistent training to improve their performance and coping techniques.
  • Consult with employees experiencing stress on the job.
  • Foster the growth of social support and information-sharing networks.
  • Enhance workers’ sense of independence and voice in decision-making to the fullest extent possible.

Prevention measure for exposure to hazardous chemicals

The International Chemical Safety Cards (ICSCs) advocate for the following standards to ensure the safe use of chemicals on the job: Employees must:

  • Please get rid of chemicals that aren’t necessary, or replace them with ones that provide the same job but are safer
  • Make available and enforce the wearing of properly fitted PPE
  • When working with chemicals, make sure there is enough ventilation and always utilize closed systems
  • Workers who deal with chemicals should be subject to regular medical checks and training
  • Use the manufacturer-recommended proper handling, storage, transportation, and disposal methods for all chemicals
  • Make available areas where people can clean themselves, including showering and changing
  • Be sure to dispose of any unused or almost unused chemical containers properly.
  • Prepare for unintentional exposures by developing emergency care and first aid plans to help save lives

Preventive measures for workplace violence and harassments

In managing various workplace violence and harassment, employers need to:

  • Acknowledge the occurrence of violent events and the presence of potential violent triggers
  • Initiate steps to organize your workplace better
  • Get the staff ready and help them out by quickly and adequately responding to various incidents situations if they occur
  • Promote the recording, reporting or documentation, and tracking of all violent incidents
  • Protect the privacy of any complaints or grievances filed
  • Keep an eye on the rates of violence and the results of preventative efforts.

Basic Principles for mitigating health and safety risks

To add to the preventive measures, employees must also:

Make Sure There Is Sufficient Discussion and Consultations

The goal of consultation and communication is to ensure that all parties are on the same page regarding the nature of the threat, the rationale behind decisions, and the necessity of taking any given course of action.

Consultation involves gathering input and information to help decision-making, while dialogue raises consciousness and familiarity with the dangers.

Dialogue and consultation must take place at every stage of the risk management procedure. This allows for consolidating knowledge from various fields and including multiple perspectives when establishing standards and weighing potential dangers.

Those vulnerable are more likely to feel like they are part of the solution and take ownership of preventing the risk.

Integrate safety precautions into daily routines

Every employee has a stake in achieving a safe and healthy workplace, not just one person or division. Every business aims to foster a “health and safety culture.”

Be sure everyone understands their role in ensuring the safety of the workplace. Set up an incentive structure to reward leaders who walk the walk if that’s what it takes.

Image alt text: health and safety risk. An illustration of risk assessment process.

Author credit: By Environmental Protection Agency –, Public Domain,


Meanwhile, you should train your staff to spot and correct any potential dangers they may encounter. For instance, you can teach children how to avoid tripping hazards by clearing the floor, tying down loose cords, and using a stepladder when necessary.

Provide necessary safety equipment to your staff

If your company does not supply its workers with the resources they need to maintain a healthy and safe workplace, it will be difficult for its workers to avoid accidents and illnesses.

This is especially true in sectors like energy and manufacturing, where simple measures like requiring PPE and providing first medical supplies can drastically minimize the potential dangers encountered daily.

Giving employees access to the resources they need is beneficial even in corporate settings. Use ergonomic tools like comfortable chairs and monitors at your desk. Make available stepladders and prevent workers from resorting to moving chairs and other makeshift methods to reach store shelves.

Stock each room with fire blankets and other safety equipment. Area rugs can help with slick flooring, and convex mirrors can help prevent accidents from happening in blind spots, so think about whether or not these are something your facility could use.

Ensure proper workplace organization

Workplace organizations start with proper being responsible and accountable for employees’ safety.

According to OSHA employer regulations, the organization’s leadership is responsible for establishing a culture of safety and health in the workplace and implementing policies and programs to ensure the well-being of all employees.

The organization’s upper management must determine who is responsible for what in terms of the safety management system’s design, execution, and performance, as well as the accomplishment of any goals related to occupational safety and health.

Therefore, it is necessary to set up systems and procedures that:

  • Make occupational safety a well-known and acknowledged duty of upper-level management
  • Establish who inside the organization is responsible for identifying, assessing, and managing occupational safety risks, and make sure everyone knows it
  • Maintain employee safety by providing adequate supervision when it’s needed
  • Give the occupational safety risks committee and other relevant parties the money, people, and equipment to do their jobs.
  • Guarantee that, where such committees already exist, sufficient plans are in place to ensure that all employees and their representatives can take part in them


Create workplace risks and hazard awareness through adequate training

A well-trained workforce is one of the most acceptable methods to ensure the safety of one’s employees, which is a priority for every decent company. What are the benefits of training? Simply said, it’s an intelligent preventative step that equips your team with the know-how they need to deal with any crisis that may arise.

Both comprehensive and valuable training will teach participants how to deal with the unique dangers presented by each workplace setting.

Workplace risks and hazards training instructions should include these core components.

  • Education about potential dangers
  • Public interaction and working with others
  • Equipment readiness, operation, and upkeep
  • Proper channels for registering defects and issues
  • Sharing information with coworkers, mainly if working alone under potentially dangerous conditions

How best can you conduct employee safety training?

The training of employees does not have to be complicated to be effective. You can make sure your workforce has the required skills by enforcing thesefour pillars of safety training:

Determine Instructional Gaps: Different industries and occupations have vastly different training needs. Lone worker policies should always contain a training needs assessment, even if it doesn’t seem essential at the time.

There are two distinct forms of risk to consider in health and safety: convectional/classic health and safety concerns and human and conflict-related hazards. Both of these topics will be addressed in depth during training.

Conventional Safety Concerns

  • Acknowledging potential threats and dangers
  • What to do if an incident occurs and how to notify others
  • Utilizing and operating all tools, machines, and equipment in a safe manner

Human/people and conflict-related hazards

  • Recognizing, de-escalating, and responding to potentially violent encounters
  • The importance of having a mobile phone, having a crisis code, having a backup plan, and knowing how to utilize it for safety purposes
  • How to operate any company-issued lone worker monitoring equipment and follow any emergency protocols

Methods of Training Consensus: How much training is necessary and what kind of training is provided will vary widely from company to company. Various sections of your workforce may need varying degrees of instruction.

Providing written instructions may be sufficient for low-risk settings like office jobs. However, higher-risk jobs may benefit from on-the-job training with an experienced coworker,classroom, or interactive online training with an outside experienced organization or individual.

There is a wide variety of training programs to choose from; it would be prudent to investigate the many possibilities.

The law also holds you legally accountable for the actions of any independent contractors or employees under your direct supervision. You need to ensure they have received proper training for the jobs you have given them. You must also understand your company’s policies and Health and Safety protocols.

Incorporate lone worker policy training in your agreements:As the employer, you must ensure your lone worker policy include mandatory training and ensure that all lone workers understand their responsibilities. Additionally, have or mentionemergency contact information, among other health and safety precautions.

Depending on the level of risk and the company’s specifics, you may want to incorporate a regular refresher training program into your policy.

Training Implementation: Training is essential; all employees must receive it from you. If some employees can’t make it to a training, you might want to spread it out across multiple days or incorporate options like recorded or onlinetraining for them.


Whether in charge of a manufacturing facility or running a storefront, maintaining a safe working environment for your employees and customers requires constant monitoring, reliable procedures, and high-quality supplies.

Provide workers with information on potential dangers in the workplace, promote open communication and consultation lines, and ensure every employee has access to the tools they need to do their job safely. In particular, you must build health and safety safeguards into your typical working practices.