Managing outdoor hazards

Managing Outdoor Hazards

Everyone enjoys being outside, only by will, in a pleasant weather. Working outside speaks more about working in good and bad conditions, where weather and other circumstances aren’t by choice.

An industrial work environment is diverse in nature – people work in office as well as in environments that are often unpredictable. People who work within an industrial vicinity are exposed to different hazards than people who spend their time working outdoors. The primary reason is the uncertainty in outdoor working conditions; hazards depend on the type of work, geographic region, time of the year and the length of the time workers work outside.

The job nature of sectors such as construction, agriculture, telecom industry, leisure and hospitality, utility and transportation have work balance that are more often tilted towards the outdoors. CDC (Center for Disease Control) defines outdoor hazards as physical (cold, heat, sun exposure, noise) and biological (poisonous plants, animals and insects) hazards.

Safety concerns in Telecom and Construction industries

Take the example of a telecom industry. The most obvious hazard is working at height; where linesman and engineers are required for work for long periods, dealing with cables, faulty lines and fittings etc. Working in areas that are isolated can bring fatigue while working, and this can result in poor perception and wrong decisions. Plus, experiences with insects and animals in such areas can even prove fatal.

Their work is surrounded by hazards – live electric cables, windy, rainy and wet days etc. Extra caution is necessary in such conditions and it is must that workers wear appropriate PPE all the time.

At a construction site, the layout of the area in some cases can contribute to hazardous working conditions. Uneven surfaces, wet grass and mud worsen travel conditions, potholes can cause slips, trips and falls. There are exposed trenches, asbestos to name to a few. Plus, in cases of extreme heat, people suffer from exhaustion, dehydration and heat strokes. Similarly, any workplace that has depths of winter is probably not a good place to be.

OSHA emphasizes on monitoring the physical and mental well-being of the workers and under the OSH act, it is the duty of the employers to provide a safe working environment to their outdoor employees. OSHA does not have any specific standards but provides a large amount of resources for industries who strive to deal such situations.

OSHA recommends conducting a risk assessment before sending the workers on the field. A job hazard analysis provides a clear picture on circumstances that could go wrong and helps manage them. These checklists can then be implemented onto the site where such safety protocols are to be followed with diligence.

A good hazard scenario should be specified aptly – one that includes a potential hazard, the exposure to the hazard, any trigger and eventually, the consequences. Accordingly, companies can then opt for preventive measures and help reduce the risk of worker injury. These can broadly consist of availability of the right PPE, proper sheltering conditions, and emergency preparedness.

Companies that are willing to address their safety standards and reduce potential risks can avail themselves a user-friendly and intuitive platform to streamline such safety activities. Safety software comprise of inbuilt checklists for JHA, and they are instrumental in initiating steps in assessments. The onus lies with the companies to make sure that their workers are safe in a particular work environment, and with that in mind, they are at a least risk of experiencing a medical emergency or a threat.

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