By Craig Carlyle, director at Maintenance Transformations

While you’re busy focusing on identifying the operational hazards and risks in your workplace, there are a bunch of overlooked workplace hazards that have proven to cause issues. When you’re updating your hazard register, keep an eye out for these sleeping hazards:

Overloading power supplies

Offices are prone to using power strips and surge protectors to get more use out of their electrical outlets. Both devices serve different purposes but increase the number of available outlets, allowing you to plug in more equipment in one space. Each power strip or surge protector has a recommended output (that is, the power being drawn through it by plugged-in equipment). Exceeding this could lead to an electrical fire. Are your power leads a fire and trip hazard?

Workplace bullying

Instances of hostile work environments often go unreported, lulling managers into a false sense of security. Victims of workplace bullying often choose to remain silent because they’re embarrassed or fear retaliation. You must do your part to dispel these fears and address such concerns.

Your interaction should stress the importance of honesty, trust, and confidentiality. To establish a healthy social environment in your workplace, you must always make open communication available between the staff and management.

Workplace hostilities are a significant source of stress for victims. If left unchecked, they could lead to further emotional, physical, or mental harm.

Poor workplace lighting

Office spaces often focus on ensuring the lights aren’t too bright to prevent eye-strain. However, low levels of light can be just as dangerous to long-term vision health.

If your employees work with electronic screens or monitors, encouraging them to take breaks at regular intervals can reduce eyestrain. During the day, you should allow more natural light to fill the room, where possible. Rely more on electric light fixtures in the evening or during cloudy weather.


On average, one person is seriously injured every day on stairs in New Zealand. It’s simple enough to ensure stair safety by keeping them unobstructed and securing railings, but stair safety and usage doesn’t end there.

Does your lighting make each step easy to see? You can eliminate many stair-related accidents and injuries if you train your employees to take their time when climbing or descending steps, watch where they are going, and avoid the stairs entirely when carrying heavy loads.

Workplace ventilation

Maintaining good air quality is key to maintaining the good health of your employees.

Besides having air ventilation systems in place, you’ll want them serviced regularly to keep them clean. If you don’t, mould and dust can build up and cause illness, especially so in overly humid or excessively dry environments.

It is not uncommon for the operation to think that health and safety is about the team down on the factory floor, but health and safety risks and solutions apply to everyone in the workplace.

Craig Carlyle is director at Maintenance Transformations. His expertise lies in the practical application of maintenance and health and safety management systems in the workplace. He is also a life member of the Maintenance Engineering Society of NZ.

The information and opinions within this column are not necessarily the views or opinions of Xpress Engineer NZ, NZ Engineering News or the parent company, Hayley Media.