Often times, you may feel uncertain about the safety of your workplace. It is important to be able to identify any possible safety and health hazards that may be looming around you. If you work on a construction site, you should be even more diligent about safety. Read on to learn how to point out hazards that may exist on your construction site.
What is a Workplace Hazard?
A workplace hazard is any potential interference with the quality of life of your occupation that causes health and safety risks to you or others. The type of hazards vary across industries, and there are hazards you should be aware of on your own job or work site.
What Hazards are the Most Common in the Workplace?
Safety hazards: They include dangerous conditions that can cause injury, illness, or death. These hazards include:
- wet conditions on floors or tripping hazards such as water or cords spread out on the floors and other walking surfaces.
- working from unsafe heights, such as ladders, roofs, or any raised work area.
- unguarded machinery that can cause a foot, arm, leg or any other body part to get pulled-in and trapped.
- electrical hazards such as exposed wiring, missing ground pins, and frayed cords.
- confined spaces that can put you in danger to toxic gases, and oxygen deficient environments. These include working in trenches, and dangers such as entering tanks.
Biological hazards: these are related to working inside schools, colleges and universities, hospitals, laboratories, nursing homes, outdoor occupations, and with animals, people, or infectious plant materials that can potentially expose you to biological hazards, which include the following:
- blood and other body fluids
- fungi and mold
- insect bites
- animal and bird droppings
- bacteria and viruses
Physical hazards: are factors that occur within the work environment that can harm the body by making contact and, often times, without even contacting the body. Such factors include:
- radiation: radiation comes from ionizing, non ionizing waves (electromagnetic fields, microwaves, radio waves, etc.) Be sure that you are not exposing yourself to these dangerous waves for prolong periods of time. Have the level of radiation you are exposed to measured to make certain it is not at dangerous levels.
- high exposure to sunlight/ultraviolet rays
- temperature extremes
- constant loud noise. Hearing loss can greatly impact the overall well being of a worker’s health; in many industrial workplace settings, sound can carry and be amplified at levels that are way beyond what the human body can take. OSHA’s acceptable exposure limit is 90 A-weighted decibels (dBA) for 8 hours.
Ergonomic hazards: these hazards are the most difficult to notice because strain put on the body can often times go unnoticed for days on end before experiencing any pain. Short term expose can result in “sore muscles” after being exposed, but long-term exposure can result in serious illnesses on a long-term scale. Such hazards include:
- awkwardly and improperly adjusted workstations and chairs.
- frequent lifting
- repetitive movements causing over use injuries to hands, arms, or legs (such as carpal tunnel syndrome).
- having to use too much force frequently, which can cause sprains and strain-related injuries.
- excessive exposure to vibration from using a jack hammer and other pneumatic tools.
Chemical hazards: these hazards are present when a worker is handling any chemical. A worker does not know how they will react to certain chemicals because some are more safer, or toxic, than others. Some workers are more sensitive to chemicals than others, which can lead to allergic reactions, illness, skin irritation, or breathing problems. Be very careful with the following:
- chemicals in containers without labels
- cleaning products, paints, acids, and solvents
- vapors or fumes that are coming from manufacturing processes
- extremely flammable materials like gasoline and explosive chemicals
Lastly, your employer may be focused on keeping the number accidents low by giving gifts or prizes as a way to reward you and your fellow co-workers on the job. But this can create a hostile environment, by keeping you and others from reporting unsafe working conditions. The precautions listed in this article can help you and your coworkers to stay alert, work more carefully, and stay healthy while on the job.
If you or a loved one is involved in a serious accident in the workplace or you experience a health problem that you believe may be caused by your job, seek help and representation immediately. You may be entitled to recover compensation for your missed time off, injuries, and other financial difficulties. Call 1-800-843-3476.