No matter what you do for a living, whether you work on a construction site or in an office, there will always be safety hazards you deal with on a daily basis. While dealing with workplace hazards may be easier for some jobs compared to others, creating a culture in the workplace based on the safety of employees takes the commitment of everyone who may be affected to be effective.
Under the Occupational Safety Health Act of 1970, it states: “Each employer shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employee;”
Preventing and removing workplace hazards is a legal responsibility, not just a safety necessity, according to the General Duty Clause. Here are the six types of workplace hazards according to OSHA:
These are the most common and will be present in most workplaces at one time or another. They include unsafe conditions that can cause injury, illness, and death.
Examples of safety hazards:
- Spills on floors or tripping hazards, such as blocked aisles or cords running across the floor
- Working from heights, including ladders, scaffolds, roofs, or any raised work area
- Unguarded machinery and moving machinery parts; guards removed or moving parts that a worker can accidentally touch
- Electrical hazards like frayed cords, missing ground pins, improper wiring
- Confined spaces
- Machinery-related hazards (lockout/tagout, boiler safety, forklifts, etc.)
Biological hazards are associated with working with animals, people, or infectious plant materials. Work in schools, daycare facilities, colleges and universities, hospitals, laboratories, emergency response, nursing homes, outdoor occupations, etc. may expose you to biological hazards.
Types of hazards you may be exposed to:
- Blood and other body fluids
- Fungi and mold
- Bacteria and viruses
- Insect bites
- Animal and bird droppings
These are factors within the environment that can harm the body without necessarily touching it.
Examples of physical hazards:
- Radiation, including ionizing, nonionizing (EMF’s, microwaves, radio waves, etc.)
- High exposure to sunlight/ultraviolet rays
- Temperature extremes – hot and cold
- Constant loud noise
These occur when the type of work, body positions, and working conditions put strain on your body. They are the hardest to spot since you don’t always immediately notice the strain on your body or the harm that these hazards pose. Short-term exposure may result in “sore muscles” the next day or in the days following exposure, but long-term exposure can result in serious long-term illnesses.
Examples of ergonomic Hazards:
- Improperly adjusted workstations and chairs
- Frequent lifting
- Poor posture
- Awkward movements, especially if they are repetitive
- Repeating the same movements over and over
- Having to use too much force, especially if you have to do it frequently
Are present when a worker is exposed to any chemical preparation in the workplace in any form (solid, liquid or gas). Some are safer than others, but to some workers who are more sensitive to chemicals, even common solutions can cause illness, skin irritation, or breathing problems.
Beware of the following:
- Liquids like cleaning products, paints, acids, solvents – ESPECIALLY if chemicals are in an unlabeled container!
- Vapors and fumes that come from welding or exposure to solvents and gases (like acetylene, propane, carbon monoxide and helium)
- Flammable materials like gasoline, solvents, and explosive chemicals
Work Organization Hazards
These are hazards or stressors that cause stress (short-term effects) and strain (long-term effects). These are the hazards associated with workplace issues such as workload, lack of control and/or respect, etc.
Examples of work organization hazards:
- Workload demands
- Workplace violence
- Intensity and/or pace,
- Respect (or lack of)
- Control or say about things
- Social support/relations
- Sexual harassment
Improving safety doesn’t always cost time and money. Sometimes, it’s as simple as bringing awareness to those who may be affected. If you are in need of any safety trainings on any of these hazards, or any other training topics, visit our website here for more information.