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