What Are the Common Workplace Safety Hazards?

6 min

According to federal and state law, employers must ensure their workplaces are safe for their employees. 


This applies to all types of workplace settings, from warehouses and factories, to offices and retail stores. Wherever you work, certain standards of safety must be upheld. 

The most important government body with regards to workplace safety is OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. People frequently use "OSHA" to refer to both this organization, and the set of regulations they mandate.

A workplace, practice, tool, or sign that is "OSHA-Compliant" meets the standards developed by OSHA.

Many OSHA regulations are concerned with the prevention or mitigation of safety hazards.


Anything that reasonably has the potential to cause illness or injury can be considered a hazard.

Providing you this training is part of how your organization is fulfilling OSHA guidelines, which require you to be made aware of potential workplace hazards.

Common sources of workplace hazards include:


• Office furniture and equipment
• Work practices
• Poor ergonomics
• Chemicals

Office furniture and equipment


Your employer is responsible for providing furniture and equipment that is in good repair and unlikely to collapse or otherwise injure you during the course of normal use.

Similarly, any employee responsible for storing or maintaining equipment or furniture must do so safely.


For example, you'd throw away and replace these scissors, not just put them back in a drawer.

Work practices


The day-to-day activities required of you as an employee must be conducive to a safe environment. And, you should avoid practices that introduce or increase the risk of hazards to yourself or others.


For example, do not attempt maintenance on office equipment that you haven't been trained or certified to perform.

Similarly, make sure that walkways remain clear of obstructions such as boxes, and that power cords do not create trip hazards.

Ergonomics


Ergonomics is the applied science of making sure that people interact with their environment in ways that are effective and safe for the body.


When it comes to OSHA, ergonomics mostly refers to making sure that equipment and policies are in place to prevent musculoskeletal disorders or repetitive motion injuries, including strain injuries for computer workers.

Examples of ergonomic hazard prevention include ensuring that your workspace supports correct posture and encouraging you to take breaks from repetitive motion.

Chemicals


Any employee who is likely to encounter potentially hazardous chemicals, must receive all pertinent information about the chemicals' properties, safe usage procedures, and what kinds of exposures pose health risks.


This information is often presented in a format called a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS).

Note: This only applies to chemicals that are for occupational use; those used in quantities or manners significantly different from consumer use.


For example, your employer is not required to provide an MSDS for bug spray or bathroom cleaner that just happens to be present in an office environment, as long as it is clearly labeled.

Quiz 1 of 1

Your job involves occasionally lifting and carrying lighting and electrical equipment from one room in the office to another. What is one way you can do this more safely?

a
Know the potential risks of chemical exposure.
b
Make sure the equipment works properly.
c
Take care to avoid muscle strain.
d
Let everyone know you’re moving the equipment.

Contact your supervisor or designated safety officer if you believe that you have observed any office hazards, or if you have any questions about workplace hazards in your organization.

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