There are many different types of workplace hazards that many industries and their workforces face each day. Fortunately there are certain associations and unions that are set in place in the United States to protect our workforce from the harmful and sometimes deadly consequences of these hazards. These occupational hazards may include:
Physical and Mechanical Hazards
While general physical hazards are extremely common in almost any place of work (i.e. tripping and stubbing your toe over some cardboard boxes can be considered physical hazard) the range of physical hazards is fairly wide. While the most common cause of a workplace injury is falling, industries such as the mining and construction industries, pose the most serious and unavoidable thread of physical hazards. Mechanical hazards are also seen in those two industries as well as in the agriculture and manufacturing industries. Specific and sensible equipment is typically required, such as safety glasses and hard hats, to help protect individuals from injuries. In addition to the hazards of falls and machines, lack of ventilation, extreme noise, and high temperatures also present workplace hazards. Another level of protecting employees of these industries is to ensure that the outside and untrained public are aware of these projects, for example how most construction typically take places in exposed public settings. In these situations, orange cones, signage, and warning procedures are required to protect both the public as well as the employees.
When it comes to experimentation and scientific research, sometimes certain viruses, bacteria, acids, reactive chemical, solvents, fumes, and explosions will initiate long term health problems or fatal hazards for the industries’ workforces. In labs, just as practiced in high school biology and chemistry classes, lab safety is an extremely important and essential practice of these workplaces. While specific lab safety depends on the type of lab and subject of its studies, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the United States has created a standard for occupational exposure to hazardous chemicals in laboratories, known as the “Laboratory Standard”. Under this standard, each laboratory is required to produce an annually reviewed Chemical Hygiene Plan (CHP) that addresses the specific hazards found in its location, and their approach handling these hazards. To maintain these standards, inspections and audits are conducted on a regular basis to assess the hazards due to chemical handling and storage, electrical equipment, hazardous waste management, and emergency preparedness, as well as respiratory testing and indoor air quality.
The other level of occupational workplace hazards is less physical but similarly harmful, social and psychological problems in the office. This may include excessive overwork, harassment, or bullying. When it comes to addressing these hazards, many companies have their own department of Human Resources to help employees.