One of the “root causes” of workplace injuries, illnesses and incidents is the failure to identify or recognise hazards that are present, or that could have been anticipated. Hazards exist in every workplace, but how to distinguish the most potential hazards that pose threat harm to the workers? By identifying hazards at your workplace, you will be better prepared to control or eliminate them and prevent accidents, injuries, property damage and downtime.
The meaning of the word “hazard” can be confusing. Often dictionaries do not give specific definitions or combine it with the term ”harm”. The main difference is that “harm” is a physical injury or damage to health whereas “hazard” is a potential source of harm to a worker.
Major categories of workplace hazards are as follows:
- Physical hazards are environmental factors that can harm an employee / worker without necessarily touching it, including heights, noise, radiation pressure, etc.
- Chemical hazards are hazardous substances that can cause harm. These hazards can result in both health and physical impacts, such as skin irritation, respiratory system irritation, blindness, corrosion and explosions.
- Safety hazards create unsafe working conditions. Such hazards can be introduced over time as workstations, equipment or tools become worn or maintenance is neglected.
- Biological hazards include viruses, bacteria, insects, animals, etc., that can cause adverse health impacts.
- Ergonomic hazards are a result of physical factors that can result in musculoskeletal injuries. This usually occurs when the type of work, body positions and working conditions put a strain on your body. These are the most difficult hazards to spot because problems build up over time.