Workplace Hazards

Posted on 11th March, 2023

Hazard–is the potential of a substance, activity or process to cause harm. Hazards take many forms including, for example, chemicals, electricity and working from a ladder. A hazard can be ranked relative to other hazards or to a possible level of danger.

 

There are many types of workplace hazards that can affect employees physically, mentally and emotionally. One of the first steps to preventing hazards in the workplace is understanding what hazards exist and how a manager can successfully control or contain them. Methods for helping your employees avoid hazards may involve creating new workplace policies or requiring that employees undergo safety training

 

The six main categories of hazards are:

  • Biological hazards include viruses, bacteria, insects, animals, etc., that can cause adverse health impacts.

    Health hazards are workplace hazards that have the potential to harm employees internally if not properly addressed by management.

    Examples of health hazards include:

    • Viruses in the workplace, such as flu or common colds

    • Mold

    • Biological hazards due to insect, plant or animal life

    To prevent illness from a biological hazard such as mold, for example, consider instituting workplace mandatory training that tells employees what they can do when they spot mold. Additionally, frequent hygiene practices, such as a regular cleanup crew that ensures a workspace is clean, should prevent most health hazards altogether. It's important for health hazards to be removed from a workspace as much as possible to prevent the spread of potential disease.

    Management personnel can help prevent any other various biological hazards by strictly following codes for disease control or any health and safety precautions set for specific wildlife removal. Adhering to these principles can help prevent potential workplace-induced conditions.

  • Chemical hazards. 

    Many workplaces use chemicals in some form or another. These chemicals can range from cleaning products to hair dye to fluids used in a factory. Knowing how to process and store chemicals properly can prevent incidents such as illness, injury, fire or property damage.

    Some chemicals that may be dangerous in a workplace but may not present issues if used and accounted for properly include:

    • Corrosive liquids

    • Reactive liquids

    • Diesel exhaust

    • Flammable liquids

    • Fluids used in metalworking

    • Lead

    • Peroxides

    • Oxidizing liquids

    • Various pesticides

    • Toxic materials

    • Wood dust

    • Chlorine

    • Solvents

    Some ways you can avoid chemical incidents in the workplace include ensuring that employees understand how to properly store and handle chemicals. Employees who regularly handle chemicals or work in an environment with those that could be hazardous often attend safety training that outlines their dangers. Additionally, effective management personnel often ensures that proper safety equipment, such as work glasses, gloves or other protective wear, is available for all employees to prevent accidental chemical exposure

    Chemical hazards are hazardous substances that can cause harm
  • Physical hazards.

    Physical hazards are substances present in a workplace or conditions that may threaten employee safety if not properly removed. Physical hazards are one of the most common hazards in a workplace, but management can avoid them by following regulatory procedures.

    Some of the most common physical hazards to avoid include:

    Temperature 

    Extremely cold or hot temperatures can be dangerous to employee health. For hot environments, dangers to avoid include heat strokes and heat exhaustion, while in cold environments, effective management takes steps to prevent conditions such as hypothermia or frostbite. While there are no maximum or minimum temperature requirements, there are gear and rules that management can implement to ensure workplace safety, such as proper clothing and frequent breaks if necessary.

    Air quality

    Air in a workplace can present problems depending on its quality. Dust, for example, when not properly ventilated, can cause workplace injury over a period of time. Chemicals incorrectly stored or gases not properly sealed may also cause workplace injury. Detrimental symptoms can appear in employees in just a few hours, or it can take a long period of exposure to begin showing symptoms. If not corrected, improper air quality may cause long-term health defects.

    Management can ensure proper air quality by adhering to safety guidelines concerning temperature, chemical storage and gas storage. Repairing or replacing a ventilation system when it is not functioning properly can also help prevent any long-term workplace health issues.

    Noise

    Many things in a workspace, such as equipment or moving vehicles in industrial and manufacturing environments, can create noise. This is another extremely common workplace health hazard. Hearing loss is one of the main concerns that stems from a noisy environment, but other less frequent issues that management can help avoid by ensuring noise levels remain manageable include general annoyance, stress and interference with communication. In environments where communication is vital, noise problems can pose a productivity problem if not properly managed.

    Management can help prevent noise-related hazards by offering earplugs to those who work in industrial areas.

  • Safety hazards

    General workplace hazards are hazards that involve the workplace environment itself. This may include elements of a building in which employees work, the machines or vehicles they operate or the general conditions in which employees operate. These hazards may arise due to the following workplace elements:

    Workplace vehicles or machinery

    Workplace vehicles may pose a hazard to employees if improperly driven or operated. To prevent workplace injury stemming from vehicles or machinery, ensure that all operators undergo proper vehicle training and adhere to guidelines related to vehicle operation. Another way you can prevent workplace injury involving vehicles is to encourage incident reporting and consider incoming reports seriously and promptly upon receiving them.

    Workplace navigation

    While not all employees operate a vehicle or machinery in every workspace, there are still dangers employees may face due to their work environment. Management can prevent potential workplace injury due to ladders, doorways, confined spaces or weather, for example, by regularly requiring safety review training for all employees. Safety training is beneficial and ensures that employees follow safety guidelines highlighted by your company's safety standards.

  • Ergonomic hazards. 
  • Frequent heavy lifting
  • Overhead work
  • Pushing or pulling
  • Poor prolonged posture (like slouching or leaning back)
  • Psychosocial hazards.

    Psychosocial hazards are workplace hazards that can cause mental or emotional damage within a workplace environment. Examples of workplace psychosocial hazards include:

    Stress

    Stress in a workplace environment can arise from poor management, improperly communicated expectations or fluctuating or overbearing workloads. Ways that management can prevent stress include managerial reviews conducted by employees or more employee input acknowledged in the workplace.

    Bullying or workplace violence

    Bullying and workplace violence encompasses any form of assault or insult that occurs in the workplace. Prevention of workplace violence and bullying is often a responsibility of managers to implement, but other employees can help prevent this, too. Effective management often implements a system for reporting any kind of abuse, while helpful employees often report instances of bullying or violence quickly and accurately.

 

       Hazard and a risk – the two terms are often confused and activities such as construction work are calle high risk when they are             high hazard. Although the hazard will continue to be high, the risks will be reduced as controls are implemented.

       The level of risk remaining when controls have been adopted is known as the residual risk.

       There should only be high residual risk where there is poor health and safety management and   inadequate control measures

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