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 Differences Between Nitrile & Latex Gloves

3 Differences Between Nitrile & Latex Gloves

Latex vs Nitrile Gloves

3 Key Differences

Until recently, latex was the go-to material for gloves across many different applications. Now, we have a couple of different choices when it comes to disposable gloves. While latex is still commonly used in some medical applications, nitrile is becoming an increasingly popular choice.

Here, we’ll discuss the differences in features between these two types of disposable glove materials:

1. What They’re Made Of

Did You Know…?

Latex is actually made of organic tree sap.

Sap from rubber tree

It’s no surprise, then, that individuals who are prone to allergies often find themselves irritated by latex. In fact, latex allergies are so common that FDA even issued a recommendation for medical suppliers to label products according to whether or not they contain latex.

Because contact with latex can cause harmful irritations to the user if he or she is allergic to it. Latex gloves are considered to be more inherently dangerous than nitrile.

Latex allergic reaction
Latex allergic reaction

Nitrile is made of inorganic synthetic materials which are considered to be 100% clean. Thus, there are no harmful properties (specifically, allergenic proteins) found within disposable nitrile gloves.

So, if latex allergies are a concern for anyone coming into contact with your disposable gloves, nitrile is the obvious choice.

Nitrile is the perfect choice for latex allergies, medical exams, and food handling.

2. How They Fit

Latex gloves are available in a variety of sizes, so their fit is somewhat customizable. That said, the material is non-conforming. Meaning that regardless of the duration for which it is worn, latex gloves will never fully mold to your hand.

There is no sizing memory feature. As a result, many cleanroom operators and other types of disposable glove wearers find latex to be less than ideal in terms of comfort.

Now:

Let’s say we have a nitrile glove on the other hand (literally and figuratively). It will actually form to the wearer, thanks to its unique memory membrane. Unlike latex.

The result is a more comfortable fit, and with reduced slipping, sticking, or other nuisances typically caused by latex gloves, nitrile may also protect against hand fatigue.

3. Level Of Protection Provided

Nitrile gloves offers superior puncture protection
Nitrile gloves offers superior puncture protection

With a proper fit, latex can be fairly durable. It’s highly resistant against alkalis, acids, ketones, alcohols, and other types of contaminants.

Nitrile is more puncture resistant:

Latex does little to protect the skin in contrast with the puncture resistance achieved by nitrile gloves.

Whereas latex can rupture when used too roughly or by snagging on a piece of equipment. Nitrile is more durable and thus achieves a higher level of barrier protection.

In applications where operator safety could be a concern, nitrile is a top-notch choice.

As you can see, nitrile tends to outperform latex in many key areas.

Latex gloves are still an affordable and feasible option for some applications, including certain industrial settings.

Yet, for applications in which users may come into contact with puncture risks or harsh chemicals, opting for nitrile’s added protection will provide greater peace of mind. And it’s also a necessary step if you have employees with latex allergies.

Browse and learn about all of options of latex gloves and nitrile disposable gloves in our store.

Hand Injuries & Prevention

Hand Injuries & Prevention

How to Prevent Hand Injuries

cut hazard, cut resistant gloves

The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) reports that hand injuries are the second most work-related injury, resulting in over a million emergency room visits in a year. Hand injuries can range from simple to very serious, taking its toll not only on a workers’ well-being but also on the company’s reputation.

Some examples of the most common types of hand injuries:

Cut Resistant Gloves
Lacerations (63%)

Skin cuts or lacerations have the highest occurrence of traumatic hand injuries in the workplace due to the use of cutting tools such as knives, razors and power tools. The damage due from a laceration can range from a simple skin cut to more serious injuries such as severed nerves, tendons and even limbs.

Crush Injuries (13%)

High pressured machines and other tools used to pound, squeeze, or pulverize objects in the workplace can cause accidental crush injuries to the hands. This type of hand injury results in seriously fractured bones, which could also affect nerves, leading to temporary or permanent paralysis.

Punctures (6%)

Hand puncture injury can be caused by using sharp and pointed tools such as knives, wires and nails. It can cause serious damage to a nerve or bone and even cause infection if left untreated.

Prevent Hand Injuries: What to do?

Cut Resistant Gloves

Workers who are exposed to the use of machinery and mechanisms on a daily basis are susceptible to hand injuries. This is why it is essential to minimize the occurrence or damage caused by on-the-job hazards.

Wear the Right Hand Protection

Cut Resistant Gloves
Wearing protective gear can lessen the risk of getting your hands injured. All you have to do is to select the proper type of gloves according to specific needs.

 
If you are working in a construction industry, opt for gloves that are made with leathers (leather work gloves) or polymers which can protect your hands from abrasive materials such as wood or metal splinters.

 
If you are handling chemicals, it is best to opt for chemical resistant gloves to avoid direct contact. These special gloves are usually made of latex, nitrile, neoprene, polyvinyl-chloride, or other polymer materials that can resist corrosive chemical substances.

 
If you use knives or are concerned about lacerations using a cut-resistant glove may prevent cuts. There are different materials these gloves are made of, but the most common would use Kevlar. There are also different ratings of cut-resistant gloves. The higher the rating the more protection you are afforded.

Commit to a Safety Program

Since workplace injuries and accidents among employees can be very costly, it is crucial for employers to ensure the health and safety of their workforce.

 
Thus, safety programs must be initiated by companies since most employees have very minimal awareness about why such training is vital, e.g. proper wear and care of hand protections.

 
Not only will it educate employees about working safely but it will also help prevent injuries in the workplace.