Unexpected incidents and accidents can happen anytime, anywhere but, being careful and cautious can surely help you out. Talking specifically of workplaces, there’re many different types of hazards that can happen whereas the only way to avoid them is through awareness.
Table of Content
|1- Classification of Hazards
|2- An Overview of Workplace Hazard|
|3- An Overview of Workplace Risk|
|4- About Risk Assessment|
|5- Alternate Terms & Descriptions to the Processes|
|6- About Adverse Health Effect|
|7- Will Workplace Hazards & Exposure Always Cause Injury, Illness or Adverse Health Effect?|
Classification of Hazards
- Biological: bacteria, viruses, insects, plants, birds, animals and humans so on
- Chemical: Depends on the physical, chemical and toxic features
- Ergonomic: Repetitive movements, improper workstation setup and/or placement of equipment
- Physical: Radiation, magnetic fields, extreme/high pressure, noise
- Psychosocial: Stress, violence, abuse, bullying
- Safety: Slipping/tripping hazards, equipment malfunctions or breakdowns
An Overview of Workplace Hazard
Sometimes, understanding ‘hazard’ as a terminology can be confusing since it correlates the word with ‘danger’ and/or ‘risk’ which is often used interchangeably. For the workplace in particular, the definition of hazard is a source of potential damage, harm and adverse health effects on the employees as well as organisation property, equipment and environment.
On the contrary, the resulting harm is considered a hazard rather than the actual source. Take for instance, ‘tuberculosis (TB)’ is taken as a hazard by a few however, the bacteria which trigger these diseases, ‘Mycobacterium Tuberculosis’ is the actual hazard or ‘hazardous biological agent’.
That said, occupational, organisational or workplace hazards can happen through various sources that can be any substance, material, process or practice; having the potential to adversely impact on the health of employees or even property. Refer to the table for more clarity!
|Examples of Hazards and Their Effects|
|Workplace Hazard||Example of Hazard||Example of Harm Caused|
|Source of Energy||Electricity||Shock, electrocution|
|Condition||Wet floor||Slips, falls|
|Process||Welding||Metal fume fever|
|Practice||Hard rock mining||Silicosis|
|Behaviour||Bullying||Anxiety, fear, depression|
Occupational hazards also include uncertain practices or unavoidable conditions that may be beyond human control. This can be:
- A falling object from a certain height due to gravitational pull or irrelevant placement
- Chemical leak and/or reaction that can be radioactive
- Leak or release of compressed gas and/or steam that is of high pressure and temperature
- A rotating equipment catching a piece of cloth or a lock of hair (due to kinetic energy)
- Coming in contact directly with capacitor’s or battery’s electrodes (electrical/shock energy)
An Overview of Workplace Risk
Risk refers to possibility, a chance or probability of a person or property experiencing some sort of harm, damage or adverse health effects on exposure to a hazard. Risk is also applicable to certain situations or happenings that results in equipment loss, harmful environmental effect so on. Contributing or influential factors that raises the bar of the risk depends on:
- Nature of the exposure: Degree of exposure to a hazardous element, thing or condition frequently or once in a year.
- Reason of exposure: Vapour intake, direct skin contact.
- Severity of exposure/effect: Take for instance a skin cancer causing substance where another that may result in skin irritation. Of the two, cancer is far more serious and detrimental as compared to irritation.
About Risk Assessment
Risk assessment refers to the process of:
- Identifying risk and hazard factors having the potential to cause certain harm (hazard identification)
- Critical analysis and evaluation of the risk correlated with a particular hazard
- Identification, mitigation and/or elimination of the risk and/or hazard following appropriate standards
- Risk control; effective when eliminating hazard is impossible
Alternate Terms & Descriptions to the Processes
‘Hazard assessment’, ‘hazard and risk assessment’ or ‘all-hazards risk assessment’ so on are different yet connected terminologies to identify hazards and evaluate the risk factors. Most important and critical steps to ensure a systematic approach taken by the workplace for hazards as well as risk control and hazard elimination included here as a part of the entire process.
About Adverse Health Effect
A common definition of adverse health effect is change or alteration in body function, cellular structure or internal anomaly that eventually lead to health problems and/or diseases. Features of adverse health effects are:
- Injury to the body
- Visible or underlying disease
- Abnormal function, growth or development in the body
- Inheritable genetic effects on children, grandchildren so on
- Decrease in lifespan
- Cognitive health anomaly and gradual reduction in production due to stress, traumatic experiences, substance abuse, exposure to solvents and more
Will Workplace Hazards & Exposure Always Cause Injury, Illness or Adverse Health Effect?
Occupational hazards and exposure don’t always result in illness, injury or adverse health impact. Still, there’re a few things to know here for more clarity. These are:
- Know about nature of the hazard(s) should there be any
- How exposure takes place
- Post-exposure or hazard effect
- Possibility of the risk or hazard to result in injury, disease or harm
- Severity of the harm or damage post-exposure to the risk or hazard
In rare circumstances, post-effects can be acute which means the results (physically or internally) may appear almost immediately for instance; contact of the skin or any part of the body with acid. On the contrary, some responses are chronic (delayed) such as spreading of the poison or inflammation after an insect bite or plant allergy for instance.
Occupational health screening and safety is essential for employees, employers and organisations to ensure a safe, healthy and productive workplace. Only authorised health screening centres perform occupational health screening for pre and post-employment.