Workplace Hazard Recognition
It is everyone’s responsibility to be mindful of hazards in the workplace. One of the “root causes” of workplace injuries, illnesses, and incidents is the failure to identify or recognize hazards that are present, or that could have been expected. Many hazards can be identified using common knowledge and available tools, i.e., you can easily identify, and correct hazards associated with broken stair rails and frayed electrical cords, etc.
What types of hazards are there? A common way to classify hazards is by category and most types of hazards be found in the categories below:
- Biological – Include bacteria, viruses, insects, plants, birds, animals, and humans which can cause adverse health impact.
- Chemical – Chemical hazards are hazardous substances that can cause harm such as skin irritation, respiratory system irritation, blindness, corrosion and explosions.
- Ergonomic – Improper set up of workstation, poor design of equipment, workstation design, (postural) or workflow, manual handling, repetitive movement, etc.
- Physical – Slippery floors, objects in walkways, unsafe or misused machinery, excessive noise, poor lighting, fire, radiation, high pressure or vacuum, noise, etc.
- Psychological – Shift work, workload, dealing with the public, harassment, discrimination, threat of danger, constant low-level noise, stress, violence, etc.,
- Safety – These are hazards that create unsafe working conditions, i.e., slipping/tripping hazards, inappropriate machine guarding, equipment malfunctions or breakdowns.
How can I identify hazards around my workplace?
- Conduct regular inspections of all operations, equipment, work areas and facilities to determine what types of hazards may be present and which workers may be exposed.
- Investigate injuries, illnesses, accidents, incidents, and close calls / near misses to determine the underlying hazards along with their causes. Consider hazards associated with emergency or nonroutine situations.
- Train all employees to help identify specific workplace hazards.
Taking corrective action and fixing hazards on the spot emphasizes the importance of safety as an important part of your safety program!
By Renee Hudson, Loss Prevention Consultant