The Most Common Workplace Hazards

Everyone has to deal with stressors at work, but staying safe while performing your daily duties shouldn’t be one of them. Even with workplace safety standards at an all-time high, there are still common hazards that appear across multiple industries. Safety training helps employees avoid injury, and identifying potential risks is a crucial part of that education.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has created six categories that hazards fall under. We wanted to provide a brief explanation category so that you can be aware of the dangers that might be present at your workplace.

Safety hazards are the most common, and every company will have to deal with them at some point. They range from frayed electrical cords and wet floors to unguarded machinery and confined spaces. Many of these issues can be avoided through regular housekeeping and maintenance. In a similar vein are physical hazards. Factors like loud noise, temperature extremes, and exposure to sunlight may not pose an immediate threat to your safety, but prolonged exposure should be monitored in order to avoid long-term damage to workers.

Biological hazards are common in facilities like hospitals, schools, and laboratories. If you regularly work with blood, bacteria, or the like, be sure that sanitation is thorough. Other dangerous materials, like cleaning solvents and toxic vapors, fall under the category of chemical hazards. In both cases, adequate storage and proper labeling go a long way toward minimizing risk. Employees who are required to work regularly with high-risk materials should receive comprehensive guidelines and trainings on how to handle them.

The final two categories, work organization hazards and ergonomic hazards, aren’t always as easy to spot. The former category comprises internal practices ranging from the onerous (unsustainable workload, lack of flexibility, etc.) to the downright illegal (harassment and wage theft). Ergonomic hazards are those which force employees to put undue strain on their body. You might not think of cheap chairs and repetitive movements as a hazard, but you will when everyone on your staff needs physical therapy.

Understanding possible hazards at your workplace is the first step in removing them or minimizing their impact. As G.I. Joe used to say, “Knowing is half the battle.”