Making the Rounds: Types of Workplaces Hazards


Hazards can be found in every type of workplace – outdoor work environments, hospitals, restaurants, warehouses, on our roads, in factories, and even in the office – risk can be present in all shapes and sizes. The best way to avoid workers’ compensation claims is to be aware of the general types of work-related risks, identify the best controls for those risks, and then implement and sustain those controls.


There are five major areas of concern when it comes to risk management:


1. Physical hazards
2. Ergonomics
3. Workplace/surroundings/environmental
4. Chemicals
5. Psychosocial conditions


Regardless of what kind of workplace you manage, there’s a likelihood that there’s at least a small risk from each of these issues. Let’s take a closer look at what each one includes.


Physical hazards

A physical hazard in the workplace can come in the form of a slippery floor, items that obstruct a walkway, tools used incorrectly or stored unsafely, among  others. Anything that could be a threat to safety, including temperature, noise, exposure to mold or asbestos, traffic, and more can affect your workers. The hazards your employees encounter will vary significantly based on the type of workplace.



Ergonomics is rarely taken as seriously as they should be. Awkward or static postures, poor positioning and workplace design, repetition, exertion and force, cold temperatures, and localized pressure into the body parts all contribute to ergonomic risks and shouldn’t be overlooked.


These kinds of injuries can happen sitting at a desk, doing assembly work, driving a truck, assisting patients in a medical setting, or in almost any other kind of work environment. Educate yourself and your workers on how to use proper body posture when lifting and managing the tools they use in their workplace.



Lots of Americans spend as much (if not more) time in their workspaces as they do at home. That means the environmental issues present in the workplace – things like ventilation, humidity and temperature control, air or water quality, and other hazards – can have a huge effect on their bodies.


Some workspace hazards are easy to see and discover, but others are silent and invisible. Toxins in air, water, soil, or building materials can affect workers both in the short and long term. It is important to understand the necessary testing measures for identifying whether these hazards exist.



The OSHA Hazard Communication Standard requires a strong understanding of the chemicals you use and store, where the Safety Data Sheets (SDS) are located, how to read SDS and container labels, and understanding the hazards associated with those chemicals. You should already be aware of the precautions necessary to keep people safe and what to do in case of accidental exposure.


But what if your chemical usage is relatively minor; for instance, everyday household cleaning supplies? Chemicals are everywhere – an accidental overspray of a cleaning product in the direction of someone’s face can cause a severe injury or illness. Certainly, every workspace has cleaning products that likely contain ammonia or bleach; they’re found on supermarket shelves, and they’re part of your most basic maintenance.


You do not need to be in a factory or laboratory setting to worry about chemicals. Anyone who handles any kind of chemical should be aware of warning labels and the information contained in the SDS. It is necessary to ensure that all employees understand how to handle chemicals, what to do in case of a spill or accidental exposure, or any other related protocols. Employees have the right to know as part of the Hazard Communication standard.


Psychosocial conditions

Stress, violence, and bullying can cause very real manifestations of injury or illness in employees. When an employee is feeling very stressed at work, or feels like they’re being bullied or threatened in any way, it not only impacts their productivity, but it also can result in physical stress-related symptoms and injuries.


It’s as important to make sure that your work environment is free of emotional harm as it is to keep it free of physical harm.


Each of these, alone, is a lot to consider if employee safety is one of your primary responsibilities. Certainly, all of them combined can seem overwhelming. The team at Cove Risk Services is always available to answer your workplace safety questions and conduct risk assessments to ensure that you’re doing all you can to keep your employees as safe and hazard-free as possible. You also have access to Cove Risk’s online safety services library.