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Do You Know All the Workplace Hazards that Threaten Your Safety?

Goldstein Heslop Steele Clapper Oswalt & Smith Dec. 12, 2021

How many safety hazards do you face at your workplace every day? Regardless of the industry in which you earn your income in Pennsylvania, some injury risks are sure to exist. While some hazards are unique to specific sectors, others pose risks in all environments, from offices to construction sites.

An occupational hazard is anything in your workplace that could cause you or your co-workers mental or bodily harm, not excluding occupational illnesses. If you learn more about the potential dangers in your workplace, you might be better able to take precautions. Safety authorities divide potential occupational hazards into four general categories.

Hazards Involving Ergonomic Issues

Ergonomics involve the designing of workstations to fit the workers and avoid the gradual development of the following bodily injuries:

  • Repetitive lifting, stretching and other motions cause progressive injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome.

  • If your desk, chair, computer, keyboard, telephone or other equipment are not placed at comfortable heights or proximity, they will pose ergonomic hazards.

  • Eyestrain as the result of poor lighting is another ergonomic injury.

Ergonomic assessments and modifying workstations can eliminate these hazards.

Hazards Involving Physical Mishaps

This category is most prevalent across all occupations, and you might be smart to look out for the following dangers:

  • Slip and trip hazards that could cause fall accidents. Be alert and cautious for icy walkways, wet spills on floors, randomly placed objects or debris, and uneven or damaged surfaces.

  • Hazards like damaged or frayed electrical cords, overloaded sockets and poor wiring can cause shocks and electrocution.

  • Dangerous equipment like heavy, unguarded machinery, sharp objects like knives or hypodermic needles can cause puncture wounds.

  • Working at elevated levels with unprotected edges poses fall hazards.

  • Exposure to excessive noise can cause impaired hearing.

Physical hazards typically cause one-time injuries, but long-term exposure to some could cause gradual injuries.

Hazards Involving Chemicals

Exposure to toxic or hazardous chemicals can occur in any workplace, and looking out for the following dangers might keep you safe:

  • Exposure to solvents and cleaning chemicals in any workplace can cause harm.

  • Substances like smoke, gasoline, carbon monoxide, paint and other fume producing hazards can cause long-term health problems.

  • Asbestos is another hazardous chemical that often presents a hidden risk that could cause deadly diseases over time.

Chemicals can enter your body through inhalation, ingestion and skin absorption.

Hazards Involving Biological Materials

Exposure to living organisms can threaten your safety in the following ways:

  • If you work with or around other people, airborne illnesses like colds and flu could affect you.

  • Contact with bodily fluid or blood will expose you to pathogens that could cause life-threatening diseases.

  • Working with animals in pet stores or agricultural settings poses severe biological hazards.

  • If you work outdoors, insect bites and exposure to infectious fungi or plants might threaten your safety.

The consequences of exposure to biological hazards could range from mild to severe.

Insurance Coverage

The Pennsylvania workers’ compensation insurance program is a no-fault system that covers the medical expenses and lost wages of all injured construction and other workers, regardless of who caused an injury or illness — as long as it was work-related. However, some gradual injuries might be less obvious and tough to establish as linked to your job. This is where the skills of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can be invaluable. A lawyer can advocate for you throughout the administrative and legal proceedings of filing a benefits claim.