What Hazards and Risks are there in the Workplace?

There can be a range of hazards and risks in the workplace, and you need to consider which of them are specific to your workplace. These hazards can be identified through the use of a risk assessment, followed by the implementation of control measures to protect against hazards and risks.

The hazards and risks present within a workplace can be extensive or minimal – it is entirely specific to your particular workplace. There are some risks and hazards which will be clearly visible within your workplace, but there are some which will be hidden and less obvious. By conducting a risk assessment, your team will be able to effectively identify all of the hazards and risks. Once your risks and hazards have been identified, you are then in a position to implement control measures to protect all individuals involved from them.

What are the 5 Most Common Forms of Hazards in the Workplace?

1) Safety
Safety hazards present themselves in the form of something which could injure an individual in the workplace, such as a spilt liquid on the floor which someone could slip on. If you identify that a spilt liquid is on the floor, this needs to be identified and subsequently controlled, such as through putting a wet floor sign next to the spillage to deter individuals from walking over it.

2) Chemical
This is where you need to consider your specific workplace and how your environment can present certain and specific risks. Chemical risks and hazards might be more apparent and wide ranging in certain workplaces than others. Chemical hazards can appear in the form of carbon monoxide, welding fumes, acid, pesticides and fiberglass fibres. If any of these chemicals are present within your workplace, you need to actively identify these and decide upon what the control measures are to protect individuals against these chemical hazards.

3) Biological
Biological hazards are mostly found in the form of blood, fungi and viruses. As previously mentioned, these biological hazards will not be found within most workplaces. As an employee you might come into contact with biological hazards more often if you work with ill animals or humans, such as in the healthcare industry. Consequently, if you work in these environments you need to be aware of when these biological hazards are going to arise and ensure the appropriate control measures are implemented.
For example, if you are dealing with animal droppings, you should be provided with the appropriate protective clothing and instruments to prevent your direct contact with this biological substance from occurring.

4) Physical
You can come into contact with physical hazards in a variety of ways, and therefore it is important that control measures are flexible to deal with physical hazards when they do arise. Examples of physical hazards can be the heat or the cold, the direct sunlight, or extreme noise which is continuous. For example, if you are working on a building site in the middle of a summer heatwave, the continuous direct exposure to sunlight might affect you badly and therefore needs to be considered as a hazard. It might be appropriate to offer these individuals time away from the sunlight.

5) Ergonomic
Individuals which partake in repetitive work or work within a position which strains their body’s position can cause ergonomic related disorders. To prevent these disorders from occurring control measures need to be implemented to protect the body from injury and illness. This can be particularly difficult to identify because it is not always openly visible or noticeable, but nevertheless it should be taken into consideration.
It is essential for an organisation to consider the particular risks and hazards which will be specific to their workplace. This is a vital component of your health and safety obligations and therefore training and knowledge of risks and hazards is essential.

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