Chances are, you’ve probably watched several workplace safety videos and undergone several hours’ worth of training to learn how to identify and handle common workplace hazards – like slippery floors or repetitive strain injury to name two for instance.
Many training modules focus on risks that pose a physical detriment to employee health and safety. But emotional, mental, and psychological hazards are equally important to discuss. These issues might be challenging to identify, but that doesn’t make them any less of a detriment to your safety and security in the workplace.
This list of the top five workplace hazards you never knew will hopefully help you identify situations in at your job that could pose a risk to you and your colleagues’ health and morale.
You are well aware of the damaging effects that exposure to loud noises has on your hearing. However, low-level noise pollution can cause psychological stress on employees that can affect productivity, communication, and mood.
Noisy printers, ventilation equipment, a vacuum cleaners, and other sound that continues for most of the workday can become intrusive and disruptive. If you work in an office, restaurant, or similar setting, sounds like these are apart of the job, but that doesn’t make them any less of a problem.
Dealing with the Public
Interactions with people is unavoidable for many occupations. Working with the public isn’t a hazard in and of itself, but for some employees, like those working in retail or fast food, dealing with customers day after day can become psychologically and emotionally taxing if they regularly are subjected to abuse, harassment, or other mistreatment.
Customer service jobs can be rewarding, but there are times when certain people make it impossible to do your job. Feeling stuck between “the customer is always right,” and corporate policy can cause employees to feel powerless and expendable. These feelings lead directly to poor morale, low productivity, and high turnover for companies.
Shiftwork is work that occurs outside the usual 9 am to 5 pm work day. This hazard is difficult to work around, as many industries like hospitals heavily rely on shiftworkers. Some employees may not mind working early mornings or overnights, but for those who do, shift work can be a significant problem.
A disrupted circadian rhythm and poor sleep quality are some of the most significant consequences of shift work and can lead to other problems in the workplace. Not only is shift work linked to physical and mental health problems, but it also affects performance and safety. Between 25-30% of employees who work shifts that fall outside the typical 9-5 workday experience sleepiness or insomnia.
While shift work is simply the nature of many jobs, there are things you can do to alleviate some of the more severe risks to your health and morale. Additionally, discussing with your employer a schedule that works better for your sleep needs may help solve some of these problems.
Many people may hold occupations where they have a set schedule, but for those who don’t, an irregular schedule has several adverse effects. It may cause workers to feel that they are unable to plan for events in their personal lives, or that they are at the whim of the schedule.
Additionally, scheduling shifts that end late at night followed by one early in the morning can cause employees not to get enough sleep and affect them the next day. Irregular schedules also contribute to poor work-life balance, which is psychologically and emotionally stressful for employees.
Disputes Among Coworkers
Problems among coworkers are not unusual, and there are several measures employers put in place to alleviate conflicts. However, sometimes disputes among coworkers are not adequately managed, and the consequences can negatively affect other members in the workplace. Fellow workers may feel compelled to “pick sides” or fear retaliation. If the dispute becomes a large enough of a problem, it can bring down the morale of the team and create tensions in the workplace that are detrimental to the well-being of everyone.
There is bound to be a problem between employees at some point, but being able to mediate a dispute before it escalates into something that affects other employees is vital to a safe and secure workplace.
Workplace hazards aren’t always visible, and learning how to address them is the first step towards a comfortable work environment for you and your coworkers.
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