The Most Common 6 Types of Hazards in the Workplace

Last updated on October 23, 2023

Even if you’re not the person responsible for safety in your workplace, it is still important to know the types of common hazards at work. Read on!

Increasing safety awareness in the workplace makes it amply clear that there are considerable hazards. While the importance of occupational safety and health management is undeniable, it is also true that many businesses have not been able to concentrate on it as they should because of many financial constraints.

Every workplace has everyday risks. Even though a designated person does formal risk assessments, each worker should be aware of common dangers within their workspace and minimize the chance for injury.

Are you responsible for health and safety in the workplace? In this article, we explore the difference between risk and hazards. If the answer to this question is yes, following this article can help with a risk assessment to make it as smooth as possible.

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Safety Hazards

workplace safety

Many small workplace accidents are the result of occupational hazards. As safety hazards to be either slip and fall or being close to machinery, they can occur to those who work with any profession and are more likely to affect some more than others. However, an occupational hazard has many different forms as well as consequences.

A commonplace safety hazard often seen in the workplace are things that can frighten somebody operating a machine, for example, any old metal object that somebody with a sharp object may accidentally touch. Obviously, they would go straight through. Somebody with their hands over the machine is an outright safety hazard.

According to BasicSafe, safety hazards that one should be aware of are trailing power cords, loose or frayed carpets, and rugs, spills, ice, and unguarded moving machine parts. The workers could slip, trip or fall on these safety hazards. Unprotected machinery, faulty cords, or cables can also cause an electric shock, burns, and fires. These safety hazards put employees at risk for either physical or mental damage depending on what they come into contact with.

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Biological Hazards

Many occupations, such as lab and animal workers, are at risk of contracting diseases or being exposed to harmful substances, including exposure to dangerous substances and diseases associated with working amongst animals, people, or infectious plant materials.

Improperly managed work environments allow harmful substances, such as bacteria, fungi, and molds, to survive if the environment is humid. Exposure to these substances can sometimes, but not always, result in health problems like respiratory irritation and allergies and could make asthma worse. Industries with high risks are spa pools, textile and print industries, and the manufacturing of paper products.

Many different jobs have the potential to create exposure to cheap and harmful substances. These substances can come from construction and agriculture, as well as building materials. This exposure can cause adverse health to those who have never before been affected.

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Physical Hazards

Physical hazards affect those people who work in harsh environments (extreme weather conditions, harmful environments.)

Workers who are exposed to continuous loud noise, radiation, sun rays are at risk. These physical hazards affect people who work outside in the sun for a long period of time. There are 23,000 workers with work-related hearing problems, according to statistics taken from the HSE.

Employees may be physically harmed by electrical live parts, fire, or falls from height at work. To make these risks lower, many care organizations need to complete a risk assessment.

Every job site has the potential to experience electric shocks, burns, and deaths as a result of a workplace fire. Employees working in schools and hotels have increased risks during their day-to-day jobs.

Working in confined spaces poses serious hazards to employees because of reduced oxygen levels. There is a risk of fire, explosions, and loss of consciousness, along with other risks. Anyone at risk includes people working in mining, refrigeration, tunnels, wells, and air ducts, along with maintenance holes. Exposure to colder weather includes hypothermia risks due to exposure outdoors during construction work or food manufacturing, among other subjects.

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Ergonomic Hazards

Physical jobs that require being on your feet a lot or being in a sitting position for prolonged periods can cause harm that is hard to notice at the beginning. Poor posture when lifting hefty objects and improper use of workstations can also increase the chances of injury.

Ergonomic hazards, or physical factors that make one more prone to injury, may be found in any workplace. While musculoskeletal injuries can apply to any injury applied to the muscles, nerves, joints, and tendons of the digestive system, they often come in the form of backpacks and poorer computer setups that injure hips and the lower back when a person excels or slops over at an extreme cross-legged position.

Poor manual handling techniques can result in long-term damage to the individual’s musculoskeletal system and mental health. These are injuries often caused by the person using their hands. Injuries can also be caused by people sitting still and typing on a keyboard too much. If your work requires you to use a computer, it should have a workplace designed in an appropriate way for that specific job.

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Chemical Hazards

When considering who might be at risk from hazardous substances in the workplace, you may not immediately think of people in certain jobs like hairdressers, florists, cleaners, waiters, bartenders, and nail technicians.

When we think of chemical hazards, we typically don’t think of workers outside of laboratory settings. The odds are that even most scientists would not have thought that these compositions would warrant a wider scope.

Chemicals are substances found in large and small quantities in many workplaces. The use of safety measures (such as personal protective equipment) and the right type of chemical for the job have decreased the hazards. The more toxic chemicals, cleaning products, hair dye, and henna products are common examples of a chemical hazard in a workplace environment.

Weathering these types of chemicals and activities can transfer serious illnesses or unforeseen hazards, many of which even could lead to death. Exposing sensitivities such as skin and respiratory irritation and headaches, individuals are at risk that might occur later on progression down the line to share such fatal diseases such as occupational asthma, cancer, or metal fume fever.

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Workload Hazards

Working too much can cause stress, depression, and anxiety. Workers experience these hazards at rates of 44% in the United States. Out of 1.4 million workers studied, this rate is likely true for many countries as well, but lone workers are less likely to speak out because they deal with their work in a remote environment.

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Managing Hazards in Your Workplace

As an employer, the law requirements require that you create a safe working environment for your employees. Some things are universally considered hazardous for any person in a workplace environment, and you need to take precautions against them. This article has outlined what these hazards consist of and how they can be identified. However, you must consider even broader examples of workplace hazards to be fully compliant.

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