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Last updated: March 25, 2019

What Does Hazard Mean?

A hazard is any object, situation, or behavior that has the potential to cause 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 are necessary risks of the job and must be managed in other ways (for instance, by using protective equipment).

Most occupational hazards are inactive or have a low potential of actually occurring; however, employers must be prepared to deal with them since a hazard becoming active can generate an emergency situation.

Safeopedia Explains Hazard

Hazards can appear in many occupational circumstances. Some hazards are acute and pose an immediate danger to the health and physical integrity of the worker or guests on the premises. Others take a longer time to materialize and may have a cumulative effect, as is the case for certain chemicals, vapors, dusts, and radiation that may lead to chronic medical conditions following repeat or prolonged exposure.

Hazards can be classified as:

  • Physical Hazards: These are the most common hazards and they include extremes of temperature, ionizing or non-ionizing radiation, excessive noise, electrical exposure, working from heights, and unguarded machinery.
  • Mechanical Hazards: These are usually created by machinery, often with protruding and moving parts.
  • Chemical Hazards: These appear when a worker is exposed to chemicals in the workplace. Some are safer than others, but for workers who are more sensitive to chemicals, even common solutions can cause illness, skin irritation, or breathing problems.
  • Biological Hazards: These include the viruses, bacteria, fungus, parasites, and any living organism that can infect or transmit diseases to human beings.
  • Ergonomic Hazards: Including 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.

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