There could be a number of risks inside your business premises that may go unnoticed unless you make an effort to look for them. The first step in the process of continuously improving your business property’s safety is to identify the hazards that are present. Then you need to determine the best way to fix the problems or upgrade your commercial space.
We have some tips that can help you find those hidden indoor hazards along with ways to help prevent them.
What are the common risks to look out for?
Mould can take as little as a day to start growing and produces mycotoxins — a poisonous, airborne substance which is dangerous to breathe in. Common symptoms associated with the presence of mould are worsened asthma, wheezing, coughing, and irritation of the throat and face. Symptoms in people with weakened immune systems can be more severe.
Identifying mould can be tricky and not all mould is easy to find. Make sure to always check anywhere that’s damp or has experienced water damage. A musty smell along with stains or discolorations are usually strong indicators that mould could be present.
To protect your business property from mould you can:
- Keep humidity levels below 50 per cent by using air conditioning or a dehumidifier in the summer.
- Make sure bathrooms and kitchens (if applicable) are well ventilated.
- Have employees use mould-killing products when disinfecting or cleaning.
- Don’t install carpets in bathrooms or basements.
- Repair leaky roofs, walls, and basements.
Electrical wiring might be hidden behind your walls, but there’s still a lot you and your employees can do to keep it from causing a fire.
According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) electrical fires account for about 51,000 fires each year which equates to approximately $1.3 billion in property damage. Structural electrical systems are the third leading cause of property fires in North America. Unfortunately, fires of this nature may also lead to serious bodily harm or death.
As a business owner here are a few tips that may help:
- Make sure all smoke detectors are functioning properly and test them frequently.
- Don’t plug several power cords into one outlet or use extension cords as permanent wiring.
- Make sure cords and equipment are rated for the level of amperage you’re using.
- Refrain from using unusually warm outlets until they’ve been inspected by a qualified electrician.
- Don’t use outlets or cords that have exposed wiring.
- Don’t block access to circuit breakers or fuse boxes — these should never be hidden.
- If you’re ever in doubt always contact a qualified electrician.
Dust and dust mites may seem harmless but they’re not good for your lungs and can aggravate allergies. Young children are at greater risk as they’re more susceptible to developing asthma. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) associates approximately fifteen lung disorders with the inhalation of dust.
Dust can also be the home to fine particulate matter. What is fine particulate matter? It’s a combination of substances that may include pollen, fungus, endotoxins, soot, and chemical pollutants. Similar to dust, it can also suppress breathing and heart functions in those that are young or elderly.
Here are some tips that may help keep dust under control:
- All surfaces should be cleared of dust over 1/8 inches, even ones that aren’t visible.
- Don’t sweep away dust with a broom, pick it up with a vacuum or mop.
- When dusting in areas that a vacuum can’t reach, use a wet cloth — dry ones may stir up dust.
- Improve ventilation and reduce indoor moisture, if possible.
- An abundance of dust mites makes breathing more difficult. Control these pests by lowering humidity levels below 50 per cent.
Even if you didn’t choose the type of insulation used in your business property, it’s important to know the hazards associated with it. You should always contact a professional if you think there might be problem with the insulation in your property.
The Infrastructure Health & Safety Association (IHSA) has identified some common types of insulation and their potential health risks:
- Fibreglass Insulation: Touching this common type of insulation may irritate skin, while inhaling its small fibres can lead to asthma or bronchitis. It can also emit toxic gasses if it catches fire.
- Cellulose Insulation: While the fact that it’s made from recycled newspapers is good for the environment, inhaling the fumes emitted from the newspaper ink can cause dizziness and nausea.
- Foam Insulation: The formaldehyde gas that foam insulation emits when it isn’t installed properly can lead to a variety of health problems like pneumonitis.
- Vermiculite Insulation: It’s fire-resistant but may contain asbestos which is why sealing it off properly is of the utmost importance.
Unknown risks inside your business can be as dangerous as the ones in plain sight, but they can also be avoided. Using the tips above to take care of hidden hazards in your property and having a loss prevention checklist will help make your employees, customers, and business safer.
This blog is provided for information only and is not a substitute for professional advice. We make no representations or warranties regarding the accuracy or completeness of the information and will not be responsible for any loss arising out of reliance on the information.