Definition - What does Hazard mean?

A hazard is an object, situation or behavior that has the potential to cause harm in terms of injury, ill health, or damage to property or the environment. Health and safety hazards exist in every workplace. Some are easily identified and corrected, while others create extremely dangerous situations that could be a threat to the worker’s life or long-term health. In particular, occupational hazards include all those work activities and processes involving the worker, raw materials, and processing activities such as operating machinery and handling chemicals. Most occupational hazards are inactive or have a low potential of actually occurring; the risk of harm is largely theoretical. However, once a hazard becomes active, it can generate an emergency situation.

Safeopedia explains Hazard

Hazards can appear in many working circumstances. Some hazards pose an immediate danger, while others take a longer time to materialize. Hazards can be classified as:

  • Physical Hazards: These are the most common hazards and they include extremes of temperature, ionizing/non-ionizing radiation, excessive noise, electrical exposure, working from heights, unguarded machinery, etc.
  • Mechanical Hazards: These are usually created by machinery, protruding and moving parts.
  • Chemical Hazards: These appear when a worker is exposed to chemicals in the workplace. Some are safer than others, but to some workers who are more sensitive to chemicals, even common solutions can cause illness, skin irritation or breathing problems.
  • Biological Hazards: These include the existence of viruses, bacteria, fungus, parasites, or any living organism that can cause disease to human beings.
  • Ergonomic Hazards: These include considerations of the total physiological demands of the job upon the worker even beyond productivity, health and safety.
  • Psychosocial Hazards: These may arise from a variety of psychosocial factors that workers may find to be unsatisfactory, frustrating or demoralizing.

The recognition of hazards has often come from observations of undesirable health effects among workers.

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