The Invisible Risks Lurking in Your Workplace

There are the known risks. There are the unknown risks. There are also unknown risks that become known – and they need immediate action.

The workplace is a place that can surprise. The surprise can arrive completely out of the blue. Not all risks in the workplace are visible. And the last thing any employer needs are surprise risk factors.

One obvious example is blood pressure (BP). Continuous high blood pressure is a major risk factor to any employee’s health and workplace. Blood pressure can only be identified by measuring it.

The Optimum field crew were on site assessing a work group where a 26-year-old male was on the list. He looked healthy, was in good nick, normal girth readings and had a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 27. He had played soccer the night before and was active most days. He arrived straight from the shop floor. He indicated he had never had any form of risk assessment before.

We measured his resting BP. It remains the highest BP we have measured across thousands of assessments. It was 202/115 mmHg. Considering the “normal range” for a 26-year-old is around 120/80mmHg, alarm bells rang. We all agreed to monitor the employee over the days we were on site. In addition, we activated a safety plan involving the Health and Safety Manager, the local GP and the individual.

Concerningly, there was no way of knowing this invisible risk. It could only be measured. Working next to a colleague who has outrageously high blood pressure introduces another risk to the workplace. Such high BP can be associated with stroke, light headiness, dizziness and generally feeling ordinary. If this individual at risk had been your workmate, assisting you on machinery for example, you have the right to know about this risk profile. His unknown risk is inadvertently placing you at risk.

We remained in contact with the individual with online information and action plans. His BP did decrease over the six months between assessments. Our last recording was 164/100mmHg. Still alarmingly high and the risk is still real. But with intervention, it is being monitored and measured.

One wonders how many risks there may be in your workplace that you do not know about? The risk to the employee and business is too great not to know.

The power of knowing what we do not know – should drive us all in the workplace to identify our risk profiles.

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