OSHA has identified five different types of hazards that affect most workplaces. These are hazards that can be found in nearly every type of facility and should be addressed to keep workers from injury or health problems.
- Safety hazards: Safety hazards are the most common type of hazard and they are present in virtually every workplace at one time or another. These hazards are unsafe conditions in a facility that can cause injury, illness, or even death. Think of hazards like spills, working from heights, unguarded machinery, wiring issues, confined spaces, forklifts, and more.
- Biological hazards: Biological hazards affect those who work with animals, people, or infectious plant materials. People who are working at daycare centers, colleges, hospitals, nursing homes, etc. can be exposed to blood or other body fluids, fungi and mold, bacteria, viruses, and more.
- Physical hazards: Physical factors encompass environmental factors that can cause harm to workers even when they’re not directly touched. Radiation, high sunlight exposure, working in extreme temperatures, and constant loud noises are all examples of physical hazards.
- Ergonomic hazards: These hazards can be the hardest to identify, but they can easily cause strain (and eventually injury) to the body. Workers can face ergonomic hazards if their workstations or chairs are improperly adjusted, if they’re frequently lifting, if they’re making repetitive and awkward movements, and other situations where the body and muscles are overworked.
- Chemical hazards: Any chemicals in the workplace can put workers at risk. Some chemicals are far more dangerous than others, but even common chemicals can cause skin irritation, illness, or respiration problems.
As you can tell, workplace safety is a lot! It can seem like you will need to spend copious amounts of time and money to cultivate a safe workplace, but by eliminating hazards you will notice workers are more productive, your facility will have less injuries occur, people won't have to take as much time off to heal, and your facility is not only running efficiently, but you’re saving lives with a safe workplace!
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