Workplace hazards caused 5,190 workplace deaths in 2016 according to the
US Bureau of Labor Statistics, that is an average of 99 weekly deaths or more than 14 fatalities per day.
Employers, managers, and safety officials can help prevent these deaths by establishing adequate safety protocols,
hazard identification procedures, and conducting regular
hazard assessments in the workplace.
What are the Common Workplace Hazards?
OSHA identifies the 6 most common hazards in the workplace as follows:
Chemical and dust hazards
Work organization hazards
1. Safety Hazards
These are the most common and will be present in most workplaces at one time or another. They include unsafe conditions that
can cause injury, illness and death.
Safety Hazards include:
2. Biological Hazards
Associated with working with animals, people, or infectious plant materials. Workers most at-risk of biological hazards include
those who work in schools, day care facilities, colleges and universities, hospitals, laboratories, emergency
response, nursing homes, outdoor occupations.
Types of biological hazards workers may be exposed to:
- Blood and other body fluids
- Bacteria and viruses
- Insect bites
- Animal and bird droppings
3. Chemical Hazards
Are present when a worker is exposed to any chemical preparation in the workplace in any form (solid, liquid or gas). Some
are safer than others but, to some workers who are more sensitive to chemicals, even common solutions can
cause illness, skin irritation, or breathing problems.
- Liquids like cleaning products, paints, acids, solvents – ESPECIALLY if chemicals are in an unlabeled container!
- Vapors and fumes that come from welding or exposure to solvents
- Gases like acetylene, propane, carbon monoxide and helium
- Flammable materials like gasoline, solvents, and explosive chemicals
Browse here for free safety checklists you can use to manage chemical hazards.
4. Ergonomic Hazards
Occur when the type of work, body positions, and working conditions put strain on the body. They are the hardest to spot
since you don’t always immediately notice the strain on the body and the harm that these hazards pose. Short
term exposure may result in “sore muscles” the next day or in the days following exposure while long-term
exposure can result in serious long-term illnesses.
Ergonomic Hazards include:
- Improperly adjusted workstations and chairs
- Frequent lifting
- Poor posture
- Awkward movements, especially if they are repetitive
- Repeating the same movements over and over
- Having to frequently use too much force
Learn more about ergonomics in the workplace and
10 simple ergonomic principles to follow. Also browse for these free
ergonomic assessment checklists.
5. Work Organization Hazards
Hazards or stressors that cause stress (short term effects) and strain (long-term effects). These are the hazards associated
with workplace issues such as workload, lack of control and/or respect, etc.
Examples of work organization hazards include:
- Workload demands
- Workplace violence
- Intensity and/or pace
- Respect (or lack of)
- Flexibility/Control or say about things
- Social support/relations
- Sexual harassment
6. Physical Hazards
Are factors within the environment that can harm the body without necessarily touching it.
Physical Hazards include:
Radiation: including ionizing, non ionizing (EMF’s, microwaves, radio waves, etc.)
- Prolonged exposure to sunlight/ultraviolet rays
- Temperature extremes – hot and cold
- Constant loud noise