What does Hazard mean?

Hazards are any condition or situation which increases the risk of injury, disease, or peril in a workplace. Hazardous working conditions increase the chance a worker will be injured while performing their normal job duties and increases the cost of workers' compensation insurance.

Common workplace hazards

A workplace hazard can come from a wide range of sources. Some of the most common safety hazards include tripping hazards from spills and blocked aisles; support hazards from ladders, scaffolds, or roofs; machinery hazards from unguarded machinery, moving machinery parts, or removed guards; electrical hazards from improper wiring, frayed cords, and missing ground pins; biological hazards from working with infectious materials (blood, fungi, mold, bacteria, insects, viruses); and physical hazards such from exposure to radiation, sunlight, or ultraviolet rays. Finally, hazards can also come from exposure to extreme temperatures.

In recent years there has also been an increase in workers compensation cases from ergonomic hazards. Injuries due to poor ergonomics can result from performing jobs which require workers to perform repetitive movements, use poor posture, or frequently lift heavy objects. These injuries may not happen instantaneously but may occur over a lengthy period of time after overuse of certain muscle groups.

Reducing hazardous working conditions

All employers should complete a risk assessment of their business. Hazards should be identified and reviewed to determine the level of security risk imposed. Some of the areas which should be reviewed include the work equipment, the plant, the workspace, and the transportation used by the business.

The employer should also review if there is risk from any of the following: heights, burns, fire, explosions, asphyxiation, or any other dangerous substances. Employees should be appropriately trained in proper safety techniques and understand how to reduce their own risk of injury.

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