Understanding Workplace Hazards


Hazards are anything or situation with the potential to cause harm to people, property or the environment.
Injury, death, diseases and stress are hazards on humans while damage property damage and loss of goods are property hazards. Environmental hazards degrade the environment.

Hazards are everywhere, one would  be surprised at the high number of hazards in the workplace environment which usually go unnoticed. Anything one can identify as a likely cause of harm to any degree whether minor or critical is a hazard. It is also important to note that hazards only represent a potential to cause harm.

Risk is the likelihood of a hazard to cause a defined level of harm. So it is said that hazards pose risk. In assessing risk, the likelihood of hazard occuring and it’s severity are identified.

A very important part in risk assessment is the identification of the hazards. Below are a number of common workplace hazards;

1. Slips, trips and falls: This is a very common hazard even at homes. This can occur due to improper positioning of equipment or materials, bad housekeeping, improper stacking and unclear access. It can lead to serious injuries. This is a hazard to people.

2. Fall of materials from height: this can be a hazard to both people and property . Falling material get damage and injure people. Reaching out to materials at a height above shoulder level and without support increase the risk of harm.

3. Overhead lifting: this is a common risk factor for ergonomically related disorders. Lack of space can create a need for overhead shelves. Regular shelving and unshelving in such cases are hazardous.

4. Prolonged hours of working: fatigue, exhaustion, and illness result from prolonged work.

5. Poorly maintained electrical equipment: There is a possibility of the equipment malfunctioning due to an electrical fault unattended to.

6. Exposed Electrical outlets: sadly people have lost their lives unknowingly through this most time children unaware of an electric conductor exposed. Electric injuries can occur and cause arc-flash burn or death.

7. Sharp objects and glasswares: improper handling of such objects can cause injury to one using them and any one around during usage. Cracked glasswares too if not properly handled pose a threat to people.

Other hazards include; Poor posture, Gas cylinders, Flood, Lightning, Explosives, Working at height, Noise, Eye strain, Wind, Working alone, Mental stress, Repetitive movements, and Adverse weather.

Seek to identify hazards in your workplace or home and correct, control or eliminate. Make your environment safe. Always think safety.


Learn more about Hazard identification and control,  enrol for the SHELL-UNN online HSE course.

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Chinedu is passionate about occupational safety and health. He keeps following trends in industrial safety. Chinedu currently lives in Ikare-Akoko, Ondo State, Nigeria.

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