5 Common Types of Workplace Safety Hazards You Should Know Of
A safe work environment is vital for the safety of your employees and the workplace at large. However, every workplace has hazards that could cause health and safety risks. As an employer or safety officer, it’s your duty to look after the safety of your employees and protect them from any hazards that have the potential to harm. You need to identify, monitor, and eliminate or reduce all the risks connected to hazards in your workplace. There are several types of workplace hazards, which can be categorised into five main types as explained below.
Physical hazards are the most common safety hazards in almost every workplace. These are environmental factors that cause harm to workers without necessarily touching them. They include falls, trips, slips, working from heights, exposure to loud noises, radiation (this includes ionizing and non-ionizing materials like radio waves and microwaves), unguarded machines, and vibrations. Falls and work at height hazards contribute to a majority of workplace injuries and even deaths. Ensure to install quality fall protection and access systems such as fixed access ladders in areas with such risks.
Physical hazards can also include safety hazards that create unsafe working conditions, such as damaged carpets, exposed wires, confined spaces, or missing ground pins, that might result in a tripping hazard and injuries.
Workers are vulnerable to this type of hazards anytime they get exposed to chemical hazardous substances (solids, liquids, or gasses) while attending their duties. These hazards can result in both physical and health impacts, such as corrosion, respiratory system irritation, skin irritation, explosions, and blindness. They can include:
cleaning products, acids, and solvents,
flammable materials like gasoline, explosive chemicals, and solvents,
gases such as carbon monoxide, propane, acetylene, and helium, and
fumes and vapours from welding and solvents.
Whatever your profession is, your body is likely to experience certain strains as you work. Ergonomic hazards are usually not easily identified since you’ll hardly always immediately notice any strain on your body or the danger it poses. They occur due to physical factors that could cause harm to your musculoskeletal system. Short-term exposure could result in muscular pain for a few days, but extended exposure can have severe long-term issues. Examples of ergonomic hazards include poor posture, poor lighting, excessive vibration, improperly adjusted workstations, awkward movements, and repetitive motion.
Biological hazards are usually common in hospitals, daycare facilities, laboratories, nursing homes, institutions, and emergency response. They can occur as a result of working with animals, other people, or infectious plant materials. These hazards include bacteria, viruses, blood and other bodily fluids, sewage, harmful plants, insect bites, dust, and animal care.
These include those hazards that can have adverse effects on a worker’s wellbeing or mental health. They are associated with issues such as lack of control, lack of respect, and workload. Examples include workplace violence, stress, victimisation, sexual harassment, flexibility, workload demands, and high intensity.
The Bottom Line
These hazards are just some of the main categories to look into. When conducting risk assessment in your workplace, pay close attention to every factor that may affect your employees in their particular circumstances. Ensure to also respond to each hazard accordingly. Hazard elimination is usually the first and safest solution. You should also ensure the availability of the right safety policies and procedures for potentially dangerous operations such as working at height.