Types of hazards

Some items are hazardous by nature, while others only become hazardous if used inappropriately or carelessly. Often, accidents don’t just happen – they are a result of workers neglecting or ignoring hazardous situations.

There are two basic categories of hazard:

Acute hazard Acute hazards are those that have an obvious and immediate impact.
Chronic hazard Chronic hazards have a more hidden, cumulative, long-term impact.

An example of an acute hazard is a slippery floor where there is an immediate danger of someone slipping and being injured. A chronic hazard could be workplace bullying, where the long-term impact may result in stress or other psychological injury.

Hazards generally fall into one of six groups:

  1. Physical – Slippery floors, objects in walkways, unsafe or misused machinery, excessive noise, poor lighting, fire.
  2. Chemical – Gases, dusts, fumes, vapours and liquids.
  3. Ergonomic – poor design of equipment, workstation design, (postural) or workflow, manual handling, repetitive movement.
  4. Radiation – Microwaves, infra-red, ultraviolet, lasers, X-rays and gamma rays.
  5. Psychological – Shiftwork, workload, dealing with the public, harassment, discrimination, threat of danger, constant low-level noise, stress.
  6. Biological – Infection by bacteria, virus, fungi or parasites through a cut, insect bite, or contact with infected persons or contaminated object.
Last modified: Wednesday, 23 October 2013, 11:41 AM