Types of Occupational Hazards
There’s no workplace that doesn’t have them...
While conducting formal risk and hazard assessments is a responsibility assigned to a nominated person/company, it’s also vital for the bosses and employees to know what types of occupational hazards their workplaces have. In this article, we’ll take you through the different types of occupational hazards present across a wide range of workplaces.
Hazards are Categorized Into
- Biological hazards
- Physical hazards
- Chemical hazards
- Ergonomic hazards
- Safety hazards
- Psychosocial hazards
Any hazard that may stem from a biological origin is categorized as a biological hazard. Some of the potential biological hazards in your workplace may include animals, insects, bacteria, and viruses. Potential disease-causing fluids, dust, sewage, blood, and mold are also biological hazards. These hazards may go on to cause diseases such as Legionnaire’s disease, malaria, hepatitis B and C, and even HIV. They may also cause allergies, along with skin and respiratory irritations, which may sometimes be quite severe.
Environmental factors that may cause physical injury to employees at a workplace are categorized as physical hazards. They include electricity, fires, extreme temperatures, and confined spaces. For example, if an employee is exposed to live electrical parts, the exposure may result in burns, explosions, and electric shocks. Using electrical parts during wet conditions may also trigger a wide range of health effects. Employees subject to extremely cold working conditions may develop severe medical conditions such as hypothermia and trench foot. Extreme heat can also cause a wide range of problems like dizziness, dehydration, and heat exhaustion.
Any hazardous chemical substances in the workplace that have the potential to cause harm are categorized as chemical hazards. For example, the cleaning chemicals that are typically used to maintain good standards of hygiene can also trigger severe respiratory irritation, allergic reactions, skin problems and asthma.
Other examples of chemical hazards include conditioners, shampoos, hair dye, henna products, nail polish removers, nail glues, and welding fumes. A lot of potential chemical hazards in a workplace often go unnoticed. For example, cleaners are always at the risk of sustaining an injury from the accidental misuse of chemicals, but this may not always be obvious.
An ergonomic hazard is typically defined as the interaction between a worker and an object in the workplace that can result in injury.
Ergonomic hazards can cause musculoskeletal injuries and manual handling is an excellent example of such hazards. When a worker is required to manually lift, push, carry, or pull a heavy load, there’s a risk of causing long-term musculoskeletal damage. Use of vibrating tools and display screen equipment are also examples of ergonomic hazards. If a severe injury is caused by an ergonomic hazard, it can result in a worker who is unable to perform his/her duties for a long time.
When employees have to perform their jobs in unsafe working conditions, they run the risk of sustaining severe injuries. For example, moving machinery parts that are unguarded are a type of safety hazard. If employees come into contact with those moving parts accidentally, the results may be severe and even death can’t be counted out. The moving parts may entangle body parts, hair, clothes, and/or lanyards. Apart from the risk of death, employees also run the risk of sustaining injuries such as loss of limb(s), bruising, and broken bones. Some other examples of safety hazards include faulty wiring and trailing power cords.
Psychosocial hazards can be defined as a combination of the hazards mentioned above that can result in a detrimental mental health condition for employees. They also include workplace abuse, aggression, and harassment. For example, the health effects of any one of the previously mentioned hazards may result insignificant stress, especially if it results in an employee being unable to work. In recent years, there’s also been a lot of talk surrounding workplace harassment that includes bullying, which is something that superiors may inflict on their subordinates. Bullying and other forms of abusive and aggressive behavior may trigger a wide range of psychosocial symptoms such as chronic anxiety, stress, depression, loss of appetite, and sleep deprivation.
Managing these hazards is essential to maintain the emotional and physical well-being of employees, however, to manage them, they first need to be identified and assessed by professionals. Once the relevant and required assessments are completed, risk control measures can be put into place to ensure that the hazards are either reduced or completely eliminated.
Care Net Consultants have the capability to provide your company with insight into the types of risk exposures/hazards your workforce may encounter on a daily basis and therefore, recommend the correct medical surveillance to ensure fitness for duty under such risk exposures.