What is a Hazard?

A hazard is an event or physical condition that has the potential to cause fatalities, injuries, property damage, infrastructure damage, damage to the environment, interruption of business, or other types of loss. There are two main types of hazards:

Safety Hazards

A safety hazard is something that has the potential to cause an injury, ie. physical harm o damage to a person as a result of contact between the body and an outside agent, or from exposure to environmental factors.

Examples of safety hazards: Falls, pinch points, sharp edges or points, moving parts, etc.

Health Hazards

A health hazard is something that has the potential to cause adverse health effects (illness). Some health hazards have an acute effect on a person’s health, which means that they affect the person’s health immediately or very soon after exposure.

Some health hazards have a chronic effect, where the effects of exposure develop over time, usually from repeated exposure or if there is time between exposure and illness. There are five categories of health hazards, as described below.

Examples of health hazards:

  • Chemical: Chemicals can enter the body by inhalation, ingestion, absorption, injection acids, solvents, pesticides, detergents, etc.
  • Biological: Other living organisms bacteria, viruses, mould, etc.
  • Physical: Energy that can cause harm electricity, light, noise, heat, etc.
  • Risks for Musculoskeletal Injury: May cause injury to nerves, tendons, ligaments, muscles, skeletal system vibration, repetitive movement, awkward or sustained postures, forceful exertions such as pushing, pulling or lifting
  • Psycho-Social: May cause psychological harm (stressors) violence, harassment, production pressures, shift work, etc.