What are occupational hazards? Definition and examples

Occupational Hazards refer to the potential for work-related illnesses or accidents. In other words, hazards that workers experience in their place of work. An occupational hazard is something unpleasant that a person experiences or suffers as a result of doing their job. Some dictionaries say that the term also includes hazards that people experience as a result of working on their hobbies.

A hazard is an undesirable, unpleasant event or danger. It can also mean ‘risk.’

When talking specifically about workplace injuries, we use the term Occupational Injury.

The Cambridge Dictionary has the following definition of occupational hazard:

“A danger that is connected with doing a particular job. Example: ‘Hearing loss from excessive noise is an occupational hazard for nightclub workers.'”

Occupations hazards – several types

There are many types of occupational hazards, such as biohazards, chemical hazards, physical hazards, and psychosocial hazards.

  • Biological hazards

Biological hazards or biohazards refer to biological substances that threaten the health of human beings and other living organisms.

This type of hazard may include samples of a toxin of a biological source, a virus, or a microorganism. Specifically, samples that harm human health.

  • Chemical hazards

Chemical hazards are occupational hazards that exposure to chemicals in the workplace may cause. Victims can suffer acute or long-term negative health effects.

There are hundreds of hazardous chemicals, including immune agents, dermatologic agents, carcinogens, neurotoxins, and reproductive toxins. Asthmagens, sensitizers, and systemic toxins are also hazardous chemicals.

According to Wikipedia:

“Long-term exposure to chemicals such as silica dust, engine exhausts, tobacco smoke, and lead (among others) have been shown to increase risk of heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.”

  • Physical hazards

Physical hazards may be factors, agents, or circumstances that can cause harm without or with contact. We classify them as either environmental or occupational hazards.

Radiation, heat and cold stress, vibrations, and noise, for example, are types of physical hazards.

Physical hazards cause injuries and illnesses in several industries. In some industries, such as mining and construction, they are unavoidable.

However, over time, we have developed safety procedures and methods to minimize the risks of physical danger in people’s place of work.

Images depicting occupational hazards - electric shock, backache, and a fall.
Image created by Market Business News.
  • Psychosocial hazards

Psychosocial hazards are occupational hazards that affect employees’ psychological health. These hazards affect their ability to take part in a work environment with other colleagues.

Psychosocial hazards are associated with how the work was designed, organized, and managed. They are also related to the social and economic contexts of the work. Patients suffer psychological or psychiatric injury or illness. Some also suffer physical injury or illness.

Workplace violence and occupational stress, for example, are psychosocial hazards.

  • Ergonomic Hazards

Ergonomic hazards refer to workplace conditions that cause wear and tear on the body and can lead to musculoskeletal injury. Our musculoskeletal system includes our bones, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and connective tissues.

Musculoskeletal injuries may be cause by improper workstation setup, repetitive movements, and poor posture. Common in office environments and manual labor, these hazards can lead to disorders like carpal tunnel syndrome, back pain, and hip problems, among others.

  • Electrical Hazards

Risk of electric shock, arc flashes, or explosions are realities that some workers, such as electricians, electrical engineers, and linemen, routinely encounter.

They can occur due to faulty equipment, improper wiring, or unsafe work practices.

It is important to carry out regular safety checks, use protective gear, and ensure proper training for employees who handle electrical systems.

Video – What are Occupational Hazards?

This educational video, which comes from our YouTube channel – Marketing Business Network – explains what “Occupational Hazards” are using straightforward and easy-to-understand language and examples.