Workplace Hazards: Types and identification
What is Hazard?
Anything capable of causing harm or damage to people, property, environment in any possible way, is called Hazard.
Most people think about only big factories and construction site with heavy equipment and chemical materials when they hear the phrase “workplace hazards.” But hazards can be found in office buildings, in movie theater, in restaurant and in shopping mall as well.
When discussing workplace safety, there can be hundreds of different hazards that are present and must be planned for. Minimizing the number and severity of hazardous event in a facility will help to keep everyone as safe as possible, and ensure the facility can remain actively working as much as possible.
Types of Workplace Hazard
Workplace Hazards can be classified into 8 major parts:
- Mechanical Hazard: Moving parts of machinery or vehicles, Manual handling equipments, unguarded working machinery etc.
- Physical Hazard: Slip and trip, falling from height, Extreme noise, burn from hot liquid etc.
- Chemical Hazard: Chemical Substances and agents, Chemical gasses, Toner, Paint fume etc.
- Biological Hazard: Sewage, airborne pathogens, fungi, animal and birds dropping, stinging insects etc.
- Ergonomic Hazard: Bad posture of workstation, improperly adjusted chairs, poorly made equipment etc.
- Environmental Hazard: Working under extreme sunlight, bad light, rain, storms etc.
- Organizational Hazard: Work pressure, bullying, work pattern, shift work etc.
- Electrical Hazard: Cracked wires, poor connection, overloaded circuits, improper grounding, damaged insulation etc.
Why Hazard Identification is important?
As International Labor Organization(ILO) stated in their Convention 155 Article 16, It is employer’s responsibility to ensure the safety of their workers in a workplace and to ensure their safety it is important to identify all those threat which can affect them physically or mentally.
Apart from this hazard identification is also must for the risk assessment of the workplace and risk assessment is also an legal requirement for any organization as per ILO convention 184 article 7 saying:
“carry out appropriate risk assessments in relation to the safety and health of workers and, on the basis of these results, adopt preventive and protective measures to ensure that under all conditions of their intended use, all agricultural activities, workplaces, machinery, equipment, chemicals, tools and processes under the control of the employer are safe and comply with prescribed safety and health standards.”
So hazard identification is important to comply with the legal authorities.
The Department of Labor emphasizes that it’s important to examine the entire environment to determine any possible hazard that might exist. Failing to identify the significant hazards in time is one of the most prevailing cause of any hazardous event.
On its website, OSHA suggests employers, safety professionals and workers take the following steps to identify and assess hazards in their place of business:
- Collect and review existing information about hazards currently or likely to be present in the workplace.
- Conduct initial and periodic inspections of all operations, equipment, work areas, and facilities in order to identify new or recurring hazards.
- Investigate injuries, illnesses, incidents, and close calls/near misses to determine the underlying hazards, their causes, and safety and health program shortcomings.
- Group similar incidents and identify trends in injuries, illnesses, and hazards reported.
- Consider hazards associated with emergency or non-routine situations, ranging from fires and explosions to weather emergencies and workplace violence/active shooter scenarios.
- Determine the severity and likelihood of incidents that could result for each hazard identified, and use this information to prioritize corrective actions.
- Characterize the nature of identified hazards, identify interim control measures, and prioritize the hazards for control.