Managing occupational risks

Occupational risks occur when someone’s job leads them to greater risks. For example, a Landscaper or gardener that spends lots of time outdoors will have a greater risk of issues caused by direct sunlight.

Like many occupational risks they are hard to avoid, a landscaper’s job requires them to work outside and therefore trying to reduce the risks through less exposure would ultimately impact their job and cost them money.

Types of hazards:

All jobs come with risks to employees, although some may seem more obvious and dangerous than others. Jobs that may be seen as having no risks, such as working in an office still hold risks for an employee’s mental and physical health and should be considered when you’re setting up a workstation and working environment.

Common types of occupational risks:

  • Biological: Often causes by viruses, bacteria, insects or animals.
  • Chemical: Caused by the use or exposure to substances
  • Physical: Environmental factors that can cause damage to a worker; heights, noise, radiation etc.
  • Safety: The creation of unsafe working environment; exposed wires or moving vehicles
  • Ergonomic: Physical factors that can result in musculoskeletal injuries; poor workstation setup
  • Psychological: Hazards that can cause an employee to suffer from mental health issues; stress, sexual harassment, violence etc.

Managing hazards in the workplace:

Failing to protect your employee’s well-being could lead you to face financial and/or custodial penalties. Therefore, it is vital that you make sure you do your utmost to manage all workplace hazards.

Here are some of the steps you should take to help identify and reduce occupational risks:

  • Carry out an appropriate risk assessment: if you are struggling with all the risks it may be worth asking employees and or other businesses like yours to help you.
  • Introduce the control measures: once you have identified the risks to your staff you will need to implement the measures to reduce the risks. This could be avoiding the use of ladders to stop falls or be to supply workers with PPE if they’re working with dust or fumes.
  • Train your employees: All employees should have at least level 1 health and safety training or office safety training. You will also need to have specific training if the workplace requires it. For example, how to deal with asbestos.

The Regulations:

While there isn’t a specific legal requirement, much of what is considered to be health regulations are covered in other employment laws. Most of the occupational health and safety regulations are covered in the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. However, as there is such a variety of hazards it is important that businesses include their own risks assessment for hazards or risks that are unique to their industry.

For example, for those who are often exposed to chemicals that could lead to dermatitis, The HSE published a leaflet on preventing contact dermatitis and urticaria (another skin disease) at work, which includes reference to the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) regulations.

For all cases, you should try and prevent the issues rather than cure it once it has happened. Occupational health regulations often highlight the importance of carrying out a thorough risk assessment and addressing any potential risks in advance to avoid workplace illness and injury.

SMAS Worksafe and SSIP:

Managing occupational risks can be hard, which is where an SSIP accreditation from SMAS Worksafe can help your business. A health and safety accreditation from SMAS Worksafe will help your business to identify all risks to your workforce and give you action plans on how you can make your business safer going forward.

To learn more about how SMAS Worksafe can help your business with an SSIP certificate, visit our SSIP accreditation page.