The 5 OSHA Workplace Hazards

Under the right circumstances, virtually anything could become hazardous in the workplace. With sensible employee behavior and workplace conditions, however, the workplace hazards that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) warn against fall into just five main categories. We’ll review them below, and provide suggestions for mitigating dangers for each.

#1: Safety Hazards

(slips, trips and falls, faulty
equipment, etc.)

Safety risks refer to the conditions or substances found in the work environment which can pose danger of injuries. From falling objects to wet floors, these seemingly innocuous everyday risks have the potential to cause serious bodily harm. To minimize these hazards, there are a few things you can do:

  1. Never leave machinery unattended while in use
  2. Practice safety while working from heights
  3. Mandate the use of safety gear and safety apparel, like hardhats, and safety glasses
  4. Have your electrical wiring inspected regularly
  5. Provide the proper signage (like wet floor signs) to notify employees of spills, and clean them up promptly

Safety Hazards include:

  • Spills on floors or tripping hazards,
    such as blocked aisles or cords
    running across the floor
  • Working from heights, including
    ladders, scaffolds, roofs, or any
    raised work area
  • Unguarded machinery and moving
    machinery parts; guards removed or
    moving parts that a worker can
    accidentally touch
  • Electrical hazards like frayed cords,
    missing ground pins, improper
    wiring
  • Confined spaces
  • Machinery-related hazards
    (lockout/tagout, boiler safety,
    forklifts, etc.)

#2: Biological Hazards

(mold, insects/pests,
communicable diseases, etc.)

These types of hazards tend to be exclusive to specific work environments. Particularly, anyone who works with infectious plants, people, or animals may be regularly exposed to biological hazards. Examples of occupations could include laboratory workers, daycare assistants, and personnel in hospitals, doctor’s offices, or nursing homes.

Coming into contact with substances like blood and other bodily fluids, animal droppings, bacteria and viruses, or fungi can put an individual at risk of becoming ill. To minimize these risks, it’s essential that you establish a protocol for handling biohazards and potentially infectious material. Additionally, make sure necessary supplies like disposable gloves are easily accessible. Sorbents can be used to clean up bio-hazards.  These powerful granules absorb the liquid, making them easy to clean-up.

Types of things you may be exposed to
include:

  • Blood and other body fluids
  • Fungi/mold
  • Bacteria and viruses
  • Plants
  • Insect bites
  • Animal and bird droppings

#3: Physical Hazards

(noise, temperature extremes,
radiation, etc.)

Physical hazards are environmental factors which can cause injury without direct contact. For instance, radiation, temperature extremes, consistent loudness, and prolonged exposure to sunlight or ultraviolet rays all fall into this category. These are commonly considered the most difficult to detect, because signs don’t always present themselves right away.Like the other hazards listed here, reducing your employees’ risk of being exposed to physical hazards comes down to providing protection.

Hearing protection, for instance, should be considered mandatory for any individuals working around loud machinery. In settings where MEFs and microwaves are routinely emitted, employers must develop practices their teams can follow to limit exposure.

Physical Hazards include:

  • Radiation: including ionizing, nonionizing
    (EMF’s, microwaves,
    radiowaves, etc.)
  • High exposure to sunlight/ultraviolet
    rays
  • Temperature extremes – hot and cold
  • Constant loud noise

#4: Ergonomic Hazards

(repetition, lifting, awkward
postures, etc.)

Like physical hazards, ergonomic hazards may develop over time. Back strain and similar musculoskeletal disorders are often attributed to repetitive workplace motions. Even individuals who work desk jobs aren’t immune to suffering from back pain.

To combat ergonomic hazards, employers can offer training from specialists to help employees understand the importance of proper lifting techniques and posture. More and more employers are also exploring standing desk options to prevent associates from experiencing health complications associated with prolonged sitting.

Ergonomic Hazards include:

  • Improperly adjusted workstations and
    chairs
  • Frequent lifting
  • Poor posture
  • Awkward movements, especially if
    they are repetitive
  • Repeating the same movements over
    and over
  • Having to use too much force,
    especially if you have to do it
    frequently
  • Vibration

#5: Chemical/Dust Hazards

(cleaning products, pesticides,
asbestos, etc.)

Some chemicals are naturally more potent than others. While certain types are only dangerous when ingested or a person comes into direct contact with them, others are dangerous when simply inhaled. If your workforce uses chemicals regularly, you can keep employees safe by:

  1. Clearly labeling all chemicals
  2. Developing a protocol for handling chemicals
  3. Providing employees with the proper safety gear (respirators and gloves, for instance) to wear while in the presence of chemicals

Beware of:

  • Liquids like cleaning products, paints,
    acids, solvents – ESPECIALLY if
    chemicals are in an unlabeled
    container!
  • Vapors and fumes that come from
    welding or exposure to solvents
  • Gases like acetylene, propane, carbon
    monoxide and helium
  • Flammable materials like gasoline,
    solvents, and explosive chemicals.
  • Pesticides

 

No matter which types of hazards your workplace has, Harmony Business Supplies has all of the safety gear and products your team needs to stay healthy and injury-free. Browse through their supplies online now, or contact a product specialist to learn more.

3 Common Respirator Myths Debunked

3 Common Respirator Myths Debunked

Respirators are used to protect the wearer from inhaling harmful substances, including infectious particles and chemical vapors. With varying degrees of protection, respirators are available in many different types. While particulate respirators are used to filter only particles (dust and mist, for instance), chemical cartridge respirators (also known as “gas masks”) actually purify the air while you inhale.

Finding the right respirator to suit your needs will depend on the nature of your application. Just as importantly, you’ll also need to carefully follow the device’s guidelines to ensure full protection during use. There are some myths surrounding the proper ways to wear, use, and enforce respirators, many of which can actually be dangerous if believed. Here, we’ve collected and debunked some of the most common respirator myths:

3 Safety Respirator Myths:

 

MYTH: My company doesn’t need a respiratory protection program if employees wear masks voluntarily.

MYTH: My company doesn’t need a respiratory protection program if employees wear masks voluntarily.

 

TRUTH: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets forth requirements which employers must follow to keep individuals safe against the exposure of harmful air pollutants. Specifically, OHSA has a Respiratory Protection Standard which enforces respirator regulations. For instance, in settings where employees could be exposed to harmful fumes, vapors, smokes, sprays, and mists, the company must have a documented plan to explain how their respiratory protection program will be governed. This should also include procedures, specific types of equipment to be worn, care and use of the equipment, and medical evaluations for employees to verify their ability to wear respirators. Thus, even if your employees willingly wear respirators, government regulations still require you to have a plan in place.

 

 

MYTH: My facial hair won’t hinder respirator effectiveness.

MYTH: My facial hair won’t hinder respirator effectiveness.

 

TRUTH: It’s possible beards and mustaches could leave you more exposed to air pollutants. Here’s why: in order to keep you fully protected, the respirator needs to form an air-tight seal against your skin. Beards, clothing, and any other blockage preventing the seal from coming into direct contact with your skin can become an issue. By preventing a tight seal or blocking the exhalation valve, facial hair can allow contaminated air to leak into your respirator.

 

 

MYTH: I don’t need to change my respirator’s cartridge until I can smell the chemical while wearing it

MYTH: I don’t need to change my respirator’s cartridge until I can smell the chemical while wearing it.

TRUTH: Certain types of respirators use cartridges to purify the air. While they offer a high level of protection, they become less effective over time as the cartridge wears out. Thus, waiting until the cartridge is no longer working essentially defeats the purpose of wearing a respirator, as it no longer protects the wearer effectively. Moreover, using employees’ ability to detect smells is an unreliable method for changing cartridges, as they may be less sensitive to the fumes after working with them for a long time. OHSA mandates that employers should have a cartridge change schedule in place, so they can be replaced prior to losing their effectiveness.

 

If you’re in need of reusable respirators and cartridges to keep your employees protected, look no further than Harmony Business Supplies. Dozens of options are available online to accommodate every application, and a product specialist can help you if you’re not sure which model is right for your needs.