What are examples of hazards?

First, we will define what a hazard is and then dive into the various types of hazards you have seen or read about.  The goal is to inform you in an effort to protect you and your loved ones. 


What is a hazard?


Sometimes, the meaning of hazard is unclear. Dictionary definitions often don’t provide precise information or combine the word “hazard” with the term risk. A dictionary describes hazard as “a danger or threat””, which is why many people use them interchangeably.


There are many definitions of hazard. However, the most common one when it comes to workplace health and safety is: A Hazard is any source that can cause damage, harm or adverse effects on someone or something.


A hazard can be defined as the potential for harm or adverse effects to people, organizations, or the environment. Sometimes the harm that results is referred to instead of the source of a hazard. One example: While tuberculosis might be considered a “hazard” by some, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which causes TB, would generally be considered the “hazard” (or “hazardous biologic agent”).


What are some examples for a hazard in your area?


Many sources can cause workplace hazards. You can think of any substance, material or process as an example. which has the potential to cause injury or adverse health effects to any person or property.


Examples of Hazards & Their Effects


Uncontrolled energy is also a danger in the workplace. These include objects that can fall from height (potentially gravitational or gravitational energy), runaway chemical reactions (chemical and pressure), the release steam or compressed gas (pressure; high temperatures), entanglement (kinetic energy) or contact with an electrode of a capacitor or battery (electrical energy). For more information, see the OSH Answers to Hazard Identification.


What is risk?


Risk refers to the possibility or probability that someone will be injured or have an adverse effect on their health if they are exposed to a danger. It can also be applied to situations that result in property or equipment being damaged or resulting in adverse effects on environment. One example is the risk of developing lung cancer by smoking cigarettes. This could be stated as “cigarette smokers are 12x more likely than non-smokers to develop lung cancer” or “the number of 100,000 smokers who will die from it” (actual number depends upon their age and how long they’ve been smoking).


These risks can be described as the probability or likelihood that you will get a disease, or suffer from an injury. Hazard refers instead to the person responsible (i.e. smoking). The type of exposure can have an impact on the likelihood or degree of risk.


The amount of exposure a person has to a dangerous thing or condition (e.g. several times per day, once a year).


The extent of the effects, such as skin contact or breathing in a vapour, and how long the exposure is. Skin irritation can be caused by one substance, and skin cancer may result from another. Cancer is more serious than irritation.


What is a risk assessment?


Hazard identification is the process that identifies hazards and risks that can cause harm. Risk assessment is where you: Analyze and assess the risk associated to that hazard (risk assessment, and risk evaluation). Determine the most effective ways to eliminate the danger or to control it when it is not possible (risk assessment).


Do these terms have other meanings? There are many terms that can be used to describe the process of identifying hazards or assessing the risk associated with them. Whatever terminology you use, the important steps are to ensure the workplace has used a systematic approach to look for hazards (potential or existing), taken the appropriate steps to assess the level of risk, and taken the necessary steps to eliminate or reduce the hazards.


CCOHS documents will use the terms “hazard assessment” and “hazard detection” to describe the process. Hazard control refers to the actions that can be taken in order to protect workers as well as the workplace.


What is an adverse health result?


A negative health effect can be described as any change in body function, or the structure of cells, that can lead to illness or problems. Negative health effects are: injury to the body, disease, changes in the way that the body functions, grows or develops; effects on a developing foetus (teratogenic and fetotoxic effect); effects on children, grandchildren, etc. (Inheritable Genetic Effects) A decrease in life span or a change of mental condition due to stress, trauma, exposure to solvents and other factors. These effects can also affect the ability to adapt to additional stress.


Do workplace hazards always result in injury, illness, or other negative health effects? Not necessarily. You need to know the following: What hazards exist, how the person was exposed (route of exposure), what type of effects could be caused by the exposure, what risk or likelihood that a person will be exposed to a hazardous condition or thing, what severity would damage, injury, or harm (adverse effect on the health) from the exposure.


These effects can be severe, meaning that injury or harm can be felt immediately after contact with the hazardous substance (e.g., acid splashing in one’s eyes). Some responses can be delayed (chronic). Exposure to poison ivy, for example, can cause skin reddening up to six hours after the contact. There are other possibilities. Mesothelioma (a type of cancer that develops in the lining and lungs of the lungs) can be delayed for 20 years.


After the hazards are removed or eliminated, they may not be reversible (permanent) or irreversible (reversible). An example of this is a hazard that may result in an injury that can be completely healed (reversible) and/or an untreatable illness (irreversible).


What hazards can you expect?


The most common way to classify dangers is by type: biological – bacteria viruses, insects, birds and animals, humans, etc.; chemical – depends on the physical, psychological and toxic properties of the chemical; physical – radiation magnetic fields, pressure extremes, high pressure or vacuum), noise, etc.; psychosocial – stress, violence, slip/trip hazards, inadequate machine guarding, malfunctions or breakdowns of equipment.


Workplace Hazards


The first step of any workplace risk assessment is to identify hazards at work. Every workplace has hazards. Even though there will be a designated person to perform formal risk assessments of workplaces, everyone is responsible for being aware of workplace hazards and minimising harm.


Not all hazards will be obvious. This makes it hard to identify hazards and protect employees. We have put together this guide to help you understand which hazards are most common and where they may be found. What are the Most Common Hazards in a Job? It is common to use the words “risk” and “hazard” interchangeably.


If you’re responsible for managing safety and health in your workplace, you need to be able to distinguish between them. The remainder of this article will discuss hazards, and how they can be found in different workplaces. We provide additional resources to assist you in your risk assessment process. The main hazards are: Biological.


These biological hazards can be caused by viruses, bacteria and insects as well as animals. You can get sick from mold, blood, harmful plants, sewage and dust, as well as other bodily fluids. Chemical. Chemical hazards are dangerous substances that can cause injury. These hazards can have both harmful and beneficial effects on the body, including skin irritation, respiratory irritation, blindness and corrosion. Physical.


Physical hazards can be defined as environmental factors that can cause harm to employees, but not necessarily by touching them. They include heights, radiation, pressure, and noise. Safety. These are dangers that can lead to unsafe work conditions. A tripping hazard could result from exposed wires or damaged carpet. These may be included in the category of “physical hazards”.


Ergonomic. Ergonomic hazards may be due to physical factors that could result in musculoskeletal problems. Poor workstation design in an office, improper posture, or manual handling are all examples of ergonomic hazards. Psychosocial. Psychosocial hazards refer to those that could have a negative effect on employees’ mental health and wellbeing. Examples include sexual harassment, victimizations, stress, and workplace violence.


Below is a list of examples of workplace hazards. This guide will help to identify hazards in your workplace and help you to recognize them.


Biological Hazards


Biological hazards are bacteria, viruses and animals that can have negative health effects. These negative health effects can be as simple as irritation to the skin or respiratory system, or even transmission of infections. Some biological hazards include: HIV, Hepatitis B andC, and Malaria. Infected blood and bodily fluids can transmit bacteria or viruses to others. Healthcare workers, including dentists, nurses and doctors, are at greatest risk for blood-borne disease.


Many other occupations could also be at risk like street cleaners or park keepers, as well as those who clean streets and take care of the public. Anybody who comes in contact with sharps at their job is at risk. Injuries that can transmit blood-borne diseases to others can have severe psychological and physical consequences.


Inadequately managed work environments can lead to bacteria, molds, fungi, and other diseases. The effects of exposure to bacteria, molds, fungi, can have serious health consequences. This includes respiratory problems, asthma, and Legionnaire’s disease.


The most hazardous work places include those in spas, paper manufacturing and the textile and printing industries. However, any workplace that has a humid environment is at risk. Flour, milk powder and grain dusts can cause serious health problems, including occupational asthma and respiratory irritation. Individuals who work in food preparation and manufacturing, such as in a bakery, are most at risk.


Building materials can become brittle and prone to molds and bacteria. Exercising these substances can lead to skin irritation, allergies, and respiratory problems. The risk of exposure to animals or vegetation is also possible.


If they are working in agriculture or horticulture or working with dogs, they could be exposed to bacteria, viruses, and mites from the animals or vegetation around them. Exposure to these mites can cause allergic reactions such as farmer’s bronchitis.


Chemical Hazards


Chemical hazards can be dangerous substances that could cause harm. Although they can be dangerous, they may not always be readily identifiable at work. When you think about who might be at risk, hairdressers, florists and cleaners are not the first people that come to mind.


To maintain high hygiene standards in every workplace, cleaning chemicals are a common danger. Cleaning chemicals used incorrectly can lead to serious side effects, such as allergic reactions, asthma, eye irritation, skin and eye burns, respiratory irritation, respiratory irritation, asthma, and respiratory irritation. There are risks to your health from hair dye, shampoos and conditioners as well as henna products.


These are all substances we can safely use at home and without thinking about the possible risks. If you do not take proper precautions, hair dyes, shampoos and conditioners can cause serious health problems. Our article, Hairdresser’s Guide to COSHH at the Salon contains more information about hazards in hair salons. Nail glue and nail polish remover, primers, artificial nails, etc.


The incorrect storage and use of these substances could pose serious health and safety hazards. Skin and respiratory irritation, headaches and dizziness are just some of the possible side effects. Exposure to welding fumes There are many risks associated with welding activities, including the possibility of inhaling invisible gaseous substances. These fumes include ozone (nuclear oxides), chromium and nickel dioxides, as well as carbon monoxide.


Exposure to these gases could cause respiratory irritation, Pneumonia, occupational asthma and cancer. If the fumes aren’t controlled properly, they can have serious consequences for the welder as well as anyone else working in the area.


Physical hazards


Physical hazards are factors in the environment that could cause harm to employees without actually touching them. Some examples of physical hazards are: Electricity. Exposure to electric live parts can lead to serious injuries or fatalities. These include electric shocks. This is because the equipment and environment of workers can become alive in wet conditions.


Fires Every workplace can be at risk from fire. Certain workplaces are more vulnerable than others, depending on the activities of staff or residents. Schools, hospitals, care homes, hotels, hot work organizations, food producers, and restaurants are just a few examples.


Fires can be very destructive for both the organization and the people who are affected. They can also cause serious injuries such as asphyxiation, burns, and even death. The most important precaution in fire safety is to conduct a risk assessment. This template will help you do one for your location. Congested spaces Employees can be exposed to danger when they work in confined spaces.


Because of their reduced oxygen levels and possible build-up of gasses, they can pose a danger to your health. These could lead to asphyxiation, fires, and explosions. There are additional risks such as flooding and collapse. Anyone who works in mines.


Extreme temperatures


Extreme cold or freezing conditions can have serious consequences for your health, including hypothermia and reduced mental alertness. People who work outside in colder months or in refrigerated areas are at greatest risk, as well as emergency personnel, fishermen, food manufacturers, and construction workers.


Exposed to extreme heat can also cause heat exhaustion, dizziness, and dehydration. Restaurant workers, welders, welders, and bakers are at greatest risk. Safety Hazards: These hazards can lead to unsafe working conditions. Examples of safety hazards are: trailing power cords; frayed or loose carpets or rugs; spills; ice. These hazards could lead to a slip or trip in the workplace and can have serious mental and physical consequences for an injured employee.


Unguarded machinery


Accidentally coming in contact with unguarded machinery parts can cause serious injury or death. In unguarded machinery, clothing, hair, or lanyards could get entangled and cause injury, including death, head injuries, broken bones, and even loss of limbs.


Cables, wiring and cords that are frayed or faulty can cause serious damage. These may pose a risk for electric shock, burns or fires. Also, exposure to live electric current can cause a fall from high places. If an employee is exposed to live electricity while climbing a ladder, for example.


Ergonomic hazards


Ergonomic hazards can be caused by physical factors and can lead to musculoskeletal injury. They are common in every workplace. If not managed properly, they can have severe long and short-term impacts on your employees’ health, and well-being. Musculoskeletal injury refers to injuries that affect the musculoskeletal systems, such as damage to muscles and tendons, bones, joints or ligaments, blood vessels, and nerves.


Some types of ergonomic hazards include manual handling. Manual handling refers to any action that involves lifting, pushing, pulling, carrying, or moving a weight using your body or hands. Poor manual handling skills can have severe consequences if employees aren’t properly trained. These could lead to long term injury to the individual’s mental and musculoskeletal systems. Use of display screen equipment.


Display screen equipment is required for most jobs in today’s technological age. Badly designed workstations can cause a variety of health issues, such as repetitive strain injury, eye strain, fatigue, and musculoskeletal injury. Our DSE training can be found here.




Long-term use of vibrating instruments can have severe health effects, including vibration white finger and sensory nerve damage, carpel tunnel syndrome, muscle and joint injuries, and vibration white finger. More information can be found in our article: Vibration Exposure: HAVS Guidance.


If not properly managed, ergonomic hazards could have severe and sometimes fatal consequences. You need to be able to recognize ergonomic hazards in your workplace and to take steps to make sure that your employees are able to safely carry out their work activities.


Psychosocial Hazards


Psychosocial hazards refer to hazards that can adversely affect an employee’s mental or emotional health. These hazards are closely linked to all the other hazards. Consider health impacts. A person’s well-being may be negatively affected by safety, ergonomic, biological, and chemical hazards.


Exposure to a blood-borne disease as a result a sharps accident can cause months of stress and anxiety for the person and their families. Nearly all the dangers described in this article can also have psychosocial consequences.




Harassment refers to someone making you feel humiliated, offended, or intimate. It can also have serious effects on your mental health and wellbeing. Bullying in the workplace can pose a serious psychosocial danger. Bullying can cause a variety of psychosocial symptoms in bullied individuals, such as anxiety, stress, sleep deprivation, loss appetite, and vulnerability. Workplace abuse and aggression


Workplace abuse and aggression can cause serious mental and physical problems for someone, regardless of whether they are from a client, a colleague or whoever it is. Managers can take steps towards reducing workplace sexual harassment, and encourage employees to report any such incidents.


How to Manage Hazards at Work You must ensure you are properly managing all workplace hazards. While this article may have helped you to recognize and consider more difficult hazards, it is crucial that you take additional steps to protect yourself and your employees. Consider, for instance, a thorough risk assessment of the hazards and work environment.


This article contains downloadable templates. The Hub has many more templates, including ones that are relevant for your industry. You should implement appropriate control measures. Once you have done your risk assessment, it is time to put in controls to reduce the hazards or eliminate them.


Extensions poles can be used to prevent you from working at height while window cleaning. Or, if these aren’t appropriate, fall prevention equipment could reduce your risk. Your employees should be properly trained. All employees should be trained in workplace hazards and health.


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