The types of hazards that most people think of first include those from dangerous chemicals, electrical hazards, and fall hazards. However, noise exposure, extreme temperatures, and pathogens are some risks that employees don’t realize exist in their environment, or that they can’t be harmed by these exposure events.
OSHA has identified five different types of hazards that affect most workplaces. Exposure risk to these hazards can be found in nearly every type of facility. Because of this, these risks should be addressed to keep workers safe from injuring themselves or developing health problems.
The Different Types of Hazards to Watch for
- 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, etc.
- 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, and viruses. Exposure risk to pathogens calls for the implementation of a biohazard safety protocol at a workplace to keep their employees safe.
- 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 chemical in the workplace can put workers at risk. Some chemicals are far more dangerous than others. With the capacity to exude fumes and gases into the surrounding air, chemical hazards such as solvents or flammable liquids can even be a fire hazard on top of a health hazard to employees. Even common household cleaning chemicals can cause skin irritation, illness, or respiration problems.
As you can tell, workplace safety has a lot to cover. 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, and people won't have to take as much time off to recover.
Eliminating hazards will help your facility run efficiently and do so safely.
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