Types of hazards in a workplace

Written by denise brandenberg
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Types of hazards in a workplace
Ergonomics play a role in office work hazards. (laptop #6 image by Adam Borkowski from Fotolia.com)

Most employers strive to create and maintain a safe workplace for their employees. In fact, workplace safety is often a very high priority for business owners and managers in all types of workplaces and industries. This is because when accidents occur, employers often must pay higher insurance premiums, fines and workers' compensation costs. If you are evaluating your company's work sites, such as office or warehouse environments, be aware of the many different types of workplace hazards.

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Ergonomic

Ergonomic hazards may be described as problems that can occur when a worker's physical workplace or typical work procedures do not match up with his physical size or work positions. These types of hazards may occur in both office and light industrial settings. According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) website, office employees may face ergonomic hazards such as poor seating or lighting. For example, if an employee works on computer all day, he may be at risk for eye strain. Warehouse employees may risk physical injuries through repetitive motions or through improper use of handling tools.

Physical

Physical work hazards are workplace hazards that can affect the body. They may include radiation and excessive noise levels. Other examples of physical hazards are falls or poorly communicated evacuation routes. Falls are the number one cause of office workplace injuries, and they can be easily avoided by mandating clear walkways and proper lifting procedures. According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, managers should check noise levels and distribute safety gear to employees who work in high-volume or high-vibration areas.

Chemical

Chemical work hazards may result if an employee inhales or absorbs harmful chemicals through his mouth, nose or via skin contact. Chemical hazards can come in several forms, such as liquids, vapours, gases, mists, fumes or solids. To prevent these types of hazards, employers should mandate that employees who come into contact with harmful chemicals wear protective clothing, gloves, masks and eye wear. Employees who work in manufacturing plants and labs may be more susceptible to these types of hazards.

Biological

Biological work hazards may occur if workers are exposed to living organisms or properties, such as parasites, viruses, fungi and bacteria. These types of work hazards may also come from toxins and allergens. Employees who work in medical offices or health care facilities may be more at risk for this type of work hazard. This is because they can be easily exposed to blood-borne pathogens and diseases. Office and industrial workers may be at risk of exposure to biological hazards if they come into contact with dangerous mould or asbestos.

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