The Top Environmental Hazards at Work

No matter how large or small the company is, it is vital to be diligent to help prevent any manner of environmental hazards. Two purposes are served by reducing workplace hazards and, if feasible, eliminating them. The first goal is to ensure safety and protection for your employees. 


The second is to follow the OSHA General Duty Clause guidelines. It states that employers have to ensure a safe environment for employees. The second is the protection of employees from environmental hazards such as injury or death.


What are the top environmental hazards at work?


OSHA defines a Hazard as an occupational risk or threat that is related to a work environment or duty. If neglected, it can cause injury to employees or customers. Employers have a legal obligation to create a safe and secure work environment. Employers are required to take all precautions necessary to identify and eliminate potential hazards in the workplace. These are the five types environmental hazards employers must warn workers about.


  1. Chemical hazards Workers who are exposed to chemicals may be at risk. The exposure to chemicals such as corrosives fumes, liquids, gasses, liquids, dust, and vapors can prove extremely dangerous. This could cause irritation, sensitization and carcinogenicity. Employers need to implement safety protocols that reduce the likelihood of employees inhaling or swallowing chemicals as well as absorb them through their skin. 


OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard, (HCS), requires employers to inform their employees about the potential dangers of handling chemicals. Workers should always have access to safety data sheets, proper labels, and other information. Training must include information regarding the chemical nature and the safety precautions that must be followed to safeguard themselves.


  1. Biological hazards. People who interact with animals or people are most at risk from biological hazards. These risks include exposure to biological hazards such as animal droppings and fungi, viruses or blood. Biological hazards are more likely to occur on construction sites when there is demolition, groundwork or refurbishment. As an example, workers at demolition sites may be exposed to water contaminated from bird droppings or dust. These conditions could cause respiratory diseases like histoplasmosis (a potentially fatal condition).


  1. Unseen dangers Workers could be injures by being exposed to extreme heat or cold. This environmental hazard can lead to occupational hearing loss in workers who have been exposed to very loud noises. Employers have paid substantial sums to workers’ compensation after millions of people were affected by this condition.


  1. Ergonomic hazards for manual laborers. These hazards can lead to disabling injuries that affect their joints or muscles. These injuries could result from unlabeled heavy loads, difficult-to-reach tools and objects, as well as standing in awkward places when performing tasks, particularly those that involve weighted load. OSHA discovered that ergonomic hazards are the top health risk for workers in this sector. These ergonomic hazards may not only cause productivity problems at the workplace but could also result in career-ending or disabling injuries.


  1. Electric hazards Injuries from electric shocks. More than 20,000 workers were injured in accidents involving electrical shocks in their work environment in the past two decades. Electric hazards most often involve workers working in close proximity to power lines or coming into contact with power cables that are either underground or overhead. These accidents were also caused by incorrect handling of machinery and tools. 


A growing number of workers suffer electrocution due to being given electrical work, despite not being qualified electricians. Final thoughts In terms of environmental hazards, it is important to remember the simple but crucial step employers can take to comply with OSHA’s guidelines. This is to identify potential hazards in the workplace, educate employees about how to prevent them, and then implement precautionary measures. Although there are many hazards in the workplace, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the five main dangers.

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