Safety in the Workplace: 10 Hidden Hazards

workplace safety

Dangers exist in every workplace – according to OSHA, a government agency responsible for health and safety of more than 130 million workers, more than 4,800 workers are killed on the job, which means that daily, and around 13 workers in the United States go to work and never come home. What’s more, each year, 3.3 million workers suffer an injury from which they may never recover. Every employer has a responsibility to ensure a safe workplace, and each worker also has a responsibility to themselves take caution when on the job. Of course, some hazards are more common than others, and no matter how conscious you are about observing safety rules on the job – accidents can still happen.

 

1. Physical Hazards

Any factor within the physical environment can constitute as a physical hazard. According to the Global Occupational Health report, published by Oxford Scholarship Online, these hazards involve the release of energy in various forms – noise, vibration, temperature extremes, etc. However, the most common physical hazard is ultraviolet radiation, which can cause sunburn, cataracts and even skin cancer in some cases.

2. Ergonomic Hazards

This mostly happens when the working and body positions put a strain on the body, and these hazards are hard to spot since a worker doesn’t immediately notice the strain on his or her body. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, musculoskeletal disorders accounted for nearly 33% of all worker injuries in the United States.

3. Fire Hazards

No matter the workplace, fire represents a risk, as a matter of fact, experts from the Seattle Fire Department estimate that anywhere between 70,000 and 80,000 occur in office buildings each year in the United States. Business owners have to make sure that their employees have fire drills at least two times a year and inform them about emergency escape routes in order to ensure their safety.

4. Electrical Hazards

People like electricians and engineers that work directly with electricity are at a great risk injury. According to the statistics compiled by the Electrical Safety Foundation International, electricians, construction workers, carpenters, roofers and painters account for 32% of electrical casualties. However, even offices, though considered safe, full of electrical equipment are exposing workers to potential electrical hazards.

5. Work Organization Hazards

According to a recent CDC report, 25% of workers see their job as the number one stressor in their lives. Workplace stressors that cause tension, strain and anxiety are considered work organization hazards. They are mostly associated with workload, lack of control and respect. Common examples include – sexual harassment, workplace violence and high workload demands.

6. Chemical Hazards

Chemical hazards are present if you are exposed to any chemical preparation at your place of work. While some workplaces are safer than others, simple people are simply more sensitive to certain chemicals, and even some common solutions like cleaning products and fumes that come from welding can cause serious medical problems. According to a SHARP survey of 1880 safety professionals, Silica (used in pharmaceutical products and sand casting) and Asphalt are seen as principal chemical hazards.

7. Human Hazards

At almost any workplace, people from time to time try to speed up their work process to a level beyond the norm. But it only takes one moment for an accident to occur, and lack of control can cause potentially fatal injuries. When human error is responsible for an accident, it is recommended to hire a work injury lawyer, because in addition to receiving workers’ compensation benefits, you may able to pursue a personal injury claim.

8. Biological Hazards

These kinds of hazards include exposure to disease or harm associated with working with toxic materials, animals and people. Workplaces like schools, hospitals, emergency rooms and laboratories all expose you to different biological hazards. The OHS reports, 75% of workers are exposed to human bodily matter, 30% to animal products and live animal and 4% to laboratory cultures and biohazard waste.

9. Operational Hazards

This is a common workplace hazard and it’s most often associated with working environments that are not frequently inspected. While some devices are able to operate in somewhat defective states, in order to prevent accidents, the Workplace Safety and Health Council recommends that workers and managers inspect their machines at least once every twelve months.

10. General Safety Hazards

Finally, these are the most common workplace hazards out there – improper and unsafe working conditions that can lead to illness, injury and death. Anything that can cause slips (ice or cords running across the floor), falls (ladders or any raised work area) or any unguarded machinery is considered a safety hazard.

Conclusion

There are many more hazards on job sites, these are just the ten most common ones. In order to prevent any of these hazards (whether you’re an employee or a manager), you need to educate yourself on what can potentially cause accidents, and read up on how you can safely prevent them. Every hazard you detect needs to be risk assessed and controlled, and even after you implement the control measures, it is important to monitor and review them to ensure they remain effective for years to come.

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