What type of hazards are workers exposed to?

Workers in all industries could be exposed to biological, physical, safety, chemical or ergonomic hazards while at their job.

Many North Carolina workers head to the office, construction site or other workplace with little fear of being injured on the job. It may always be a possibility, but most people do not worry about it on a daily basis. Even though it might not be expected, the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that there were an estimated 2.9 million nonfatal injuries and illnesses reported by employers across the country in a single year. These incidents could be caused by a variety of factors.

Biological

When workers are exposed to blood, feces, fungi, plants, bacteria and viruses, they are coming in contact with biological hazards. Those in the healthcare field may be most at risk for this type of hazard, but livestock workers, zoologists, teachers, lab technicians and agricultural workers may also come face to face with this potential danger. Anyone who has to work with people, animals or infectious plants could be exposed to this hazard.

Physical

This type of risk can affect an employee without ever touching him or her. For example, being exposed to loud noises can result in a physical hazard. Other dangers in this category include exposure to radiation, extreme temperatures and ultraviolet rays.

Safety

Almost all workers in every industry are at risk for safety hazards. This is one of the largest categories and can include the following:

  • Tripping over loose carpets
  • Falling from a height
  • Working near unguarded machinery
  • Being struck by an object
  • Getting confined in small spaces

With so many varieties, it is obvious that office workers and construction workers alike could be injured by this type of danger.

Chemical

In some lines of work, employees may be expected to deal with powerful cleaners or dangerous gases. Whether the chemical is in a gas, solid or liquid state, it can still pose a risk to some workers. Certain people have a higher sensitivity to chemicals. Chemical hazards are often found in landscaping, welding, manufacturing and cleaning jobs.

Ergonomic

Another common hazard faced by a wide range of workers is strain caused by the body's position. For example, if a worker has to sit at a desk all day, he or she may start to have back pain due to a poorly adjusted chair. Other laborers may be expected to frequently lift heavy objects, use extreme force or repeat the same movement. All of these actions can cause physical strain.

North Carolina workers should feel safe in their work environments, but every job may have some level of risk. If an injury or illness is caused by a workplace, it may be beneficial to talk with a lawyer who handles workers' compensation cases.