Regardless of your job title, almost every position comes with potential workplace health hazards. Chemical, ergonomic, biological, physical and psychosocial are some of the most common occupational hazards that all workers should watch out for. Below, Dr. Ali Ghahary shares a more in-depth look at these hazards and what to do in the event that you experience a workplace related injury or illness.
Almost every workplace has chemicals – cleaning products, in particular. However, chemical hazards can also come from things like gums our vapors as a result of wielding, gases such as propane and carbon monoxide, other flammable materials, and even pesticides. Some of these chemicals are considered safer than others and may not result in any serious harm to your health – however, in other cases, workers may be sensitive to these chemicals and can develop things like skin irritation and breathing problems. Carbon monoxide, in particular, can be extremely harmful and may even result in death if you are exposed to high levels.
These hazards occur whenever there is any kind of strain put on your body. For example, lifting heavy objects, doing construction work, sitting or standing for extended periods of time, having poor posture, slips, trips or falls, and repeated movements (i.e. typing.) Even lighting that is too bright or too dim is considered an ergonomic hazard due to the impact it can have on your eyes and eyesight. Ergonomic hazards are much more difficult to spot than other hazards, as it may take a few days for any type of bodily straight to be noticeable.
As a family physician, biological hazards are something Dr. Ali Ghahary has to pay close attention to. Those who work in the medical field (such as in doctors offices, hospitals, laboratories, or as first responders) are much more susceptible to biological hazards. The types of biological hazards one can be exposed to includes blood and other bodily fluids, bacteria and viruses, mold, animal or bird droppings, insect bites, and even certain plants.
These are hazards that come from the environment – such as overexposure to sunlight/ultraviolet rays, ionizing and non-ionizing radiation, extreme temperatures (hot and cold), and loud noise.
In recent years, psychosocial hazards have been a hot topic of conversation. A psychological hazards can include stress due to workplace demands, lack of flexibility, and not having room to improve or grow in your career. Psychosocial hazards can also include things like sexual harassment and bullying in the workplace.