Common Physical Health Hazards To Which Workers Are Exposed
A physical hazard is an agent, factor or circumstance that can cause harm with contact. They can be classified as type of occupational hazard or environmental hazard. Physical hazards include ergonomic hazards, radiation, heat and cold stress, vibration hazards, and noise hazards.
Physical hazards are a common source of injuries in many industries. They are perhaps unavoidable in certain industries, such as construction and mining, but over time people have developed safety methods and procedures to manage the risks of physical danger in the workplace. The employment of children may pose special problems.
Physical Health Hazards
Physical health hazards that employees face include excessive levels of ionizing and nonionizing electromagnetic radiation, noise, vibration, illumination, and temperature and humidity extremes. Throughout the rest of this module, we’ll briefly look at each of the following common types of physical hazards encountered by employees in the workplace. Industrial hygienists routinely analyze workplaces for these hazards and exposures.
Radiation: In occupations where there is exposure to ionizing radiation, time, distance, and shielding are important tools in ensuring worker safety. Danger from radiation increases with the amount of time one is exposed to it; hence, the shorter the time of exposure the smaller the radiation danger.
Noise: Noise, another significant physical health hazard, can be controlled by various measures. Noise can be reduced by controlling the noise at the source and by controlling exposure to the noise.
Temperature and humidity: Another physical hazard, radiant heat exposure in factories such as steel mills, can be controlled by installing reflective shields and by providing protective clothing.
Illumination: Illumination in the workplace is an important consideration. Inadequate or too much illumination in the work area can cause eye strain. Work environments that are too dark can possibly cause injuries from tripping and falling.
Ergonomics: More injuries and physical disorders are caused by the hazards associated with poor ergonomics. Strains, sprains, repetitive motion injuries, and musculoskeletal disorders are common in the workplace. Unfortunately, OSHA does not have specific mandatory standards that address proper ergonomics.