Understanding the Six Major Types of Workplace Hazards
To cultivate a safety culture at the workplace, you need to think about the Big Picture
As an employer, it’s your utmost duty to prevent and remove the hazards from the workplace. Additionally, it’s a legal responsibility for employers to ensure that the workplace is free from hazards that could cause injuries and even prove fatal. Failing to comply to this rule leads to complicated and expensive legal tangles in the unfortunate case of a workplace accident.
What’s the First Step in Preventing Workplace Hazards?
We believe the first step in preventing accidents and injuries in the workplace is knowledge. Here, in this week’s post, we give you the six main types of workplace hazards. By being aware of these hazards, you can take the necessary steps to mitigate employee risk and make the workplace a zone of safety.
Six Major Types of Workplace Hazards
These are some of the most common causes of accidents and are present in almost all workplaces at one time or another. The individual hazards can cause illness, injuries and even death at time. Here’s a closer look at each of the main type of workplace hazards.
- Safety Hazards:
- Accidental spills on workplace floors
- Tripping hazards like cords and extension cables running across the floor, blocked aisles
- Working from heights such as roofs, scaffolds, ladders or any other raised work area
- Moving machinery parts that aren’t covered which workers can touch accidentally
- Other machinery related hazards like improper operation of forklifts, boiler safety, lockout/tag outs, etc.
- Unguarded machinery, while in operation
- Electrical hazards like improper wiring, short circuits, overloads, missing ground pins, frayed cords
- Confined spaces
- Biological Hazards
These are any hazards that you experience while working with people, animals, infectious plants or other microorganisms. Usually people who work in day care facilities, nursing homes, primary health care centers, hospitals, medical laboratories, schools, colleges, universities, outdoor occupations, emergency response come in contact with biological hazards.
The common types of biological hazards include exposure to:
- Fungi / mold
- Animal and bird droppings
- Insect bits
- Bacteria and viruses
- Harmful plant secretions
- Blood and other bodily fluids
- Physical Hazards
These are environmental factors that can harm a person. The individual need not touch the physical hazard to be affected by it. Just by being in the vicinity, you are exposed to the physical hazard. Some of the main types include:
- High exposure to ultraviolet / sunlight rays
- Extreme temperatures both hot and cold
- Radiation – this can be divided into two main types
- Non-ionizing like microwaves, EMF’s, radio waves, etc.
- Constant loud noise
- Ergonomic Hazards
These hazards occur when the nature of the work, work body positions and other working conditions cause physical strain (and sometimes even mental strain) to your body. Ergonomic hazards are the most difficult hazards to prevent, because they are difficult to spot in the initial stages. Usually, these hazards are noted only after it has caused harm to the body.
Short term exposure to ergonomic hazards generally causes sore muscles that become normal after a couple of days. However, the long-term exposure is quite serious and could even lead to long-term illnesses.
Some of the main types of ergonomic hazards include:
- Improperly positioned workplace tables and chairs (usually the height doesn’t suit the occupant causing him/her to strain his/her muscles)
- Frequent lifting
- Awkward movements that are often repetitive
- Repetitive movements
- Using too much force for a particular task can become problematic especially if it’s repetitive
- Poor posture
- Frequent lifting of heavy objects
- Chemical Hazards
These hazards happen when an employee is exposed to any harmful chemicals (gas, liquid or solids) at the workplace. While not all chemicals are harmful to all, chemical hazards pose greater damages to people who are allergic and are sensitive. Some of the common results of chemical hazards include breathing difficulties, skin irritation, eye dryness and other severe illnesses.
Here are a few chemicals that have to be handled with extreme caution. Beware of these:
- Workplace Liquids like paints, cleaning products, solvents, acids – especially if they’re stored in unmarked containers
- Fumes and vapors from solvents and welding
- Flammable materials like explosive chemicals, solvents, petrol and diesel
- Gases like helium, carbon monoxide, propane, acetylene
- Work Organization Hazards
More than hazards, these are stressors that trigger stress and panic in workers. It could have both short-term effects as well as long-term effects. These are hazards that are generally caused due to lack of organization in the workplace.
Some common examples of workplace hazards include:
- Heavy workload
- Workplace violence
- Respect or lack of it
- No control or say in the workplace happenings
- Lack of social support and community at the workplace
- No place for flexibility
- Sexual harassment
Hope you have got a clear picture of the major types of workplace hazards. The next step is to do a detailed analysis of your workplace to figure out all the hazards present. You could do this on your own, but we suggest hiring a professional team like Totalika to approach the process the right way. Technically, this process is called as workplace safety audit.
At the end of the safety audit, you’re presented with a workplace safety score card. This helps you to easily identify all that’s wrong in the workplace, so that you can rectify it. To find out more about how the workplace safety audit benefits your business, get in touch with our safety experts here at Totalika by giving us a call at 0124 266 3021 / 0124 661 3137.
Have a safe day at Work!