People usually feel safe at workplaces where they spend a significant part of their day. However, several factors can contribute towards making workplaces unsafe and unhealthy.
It may include the nature of work, the presence of hazardous substances in the workplace, and failure to comply with safety standards and workplace regulations.
In addition, unhealthy workplace practices also promote occupational injuries and severe health risks. Workplace-related hazards and illnesses may vary from minor infections to severe and chronic ailments, including cancer.
Here are some workplace-related hazards and diseases that you need to know to address them better.
- Chemical Hazards
When chemical substances cause harm at the workplace, they are termed chemical hazards. They are hard to identify but can lead to hazardous health effects.
For instance, cancers are one of the leading causes of death across the United States caused by toxic substances in the workplace. Occupational cancers have become more prevalent due to the rise in carcinogens at some workplaces.
Asbestos-related diseases alone cause the death of at least 100,000 people globally per year. Mesothelioma is also occupational cancer caused by constant and unhealthy exposure to asbestos.
However, some organizations are working to provide legal information to the affected to get compensation from their workplaces.
Chemicals are used for cleaning purposes in almost every workplace to achieve and maintain hygiene standards. Their incorrect or excessive use can also cause serious health ailments such as asthma, dermatitis, respiratory irritation, skin allergies, eye burn, etc.
According to findings, allergic and contact dermatitis is the most common and one of the primary causes of occupational skin diseases, accounting for approximately 15-20% of all reported cases of occupational diseases.
Over 300 chemicals found in the workplace are the leading cause of developing asthma. It is more common among workers in foam, auto parts, and plastic manufacturing industries.
The International Labor Organization has listed sensitizing agents as the primary cause of occupational asthma.
Similarly, the unfair practice of using and storing chemical substances found in nail polish, primers, artificial nails, nail glue, and nail paint remover can lead to serious safety and health risks.
For instance, hairdressers, cleaners, nail technicians, waiters, and bartenders are at high risk of developing headaches, sickness, respiratory and skin irritation, dizziness, occupational asthma, and cancer.
- Biological Hazards
Bacteria, viruses, animals, and insects cause biological hazards that adversely impact your health. Blood-borne diseases, including malaria, hepatitis B and C, and HIV, are biological hazards that can infect you through blood and other bodily fluids.
Professionals working in the healthcare sector, including doctors, nurses, physicians, and dentists, are more prone to these diseases. In addition, cleaning staff, waste disposal and collecting staff, and tattoo artists are also at risk of developing blood-borne diseases.
If you spend your time in an improperly managed workplace, there are high chances that you might get infected with bacterial infections and fungal allergies.
Moreover, you are also at risk of developing severe health ailments, including respiratory disorders and Legionnaire’s disease.
These diseases are more likely to spread in humid environments such as spas, pools, textile, print, and paper industries.
- Physical Hazards
Physical hazards include environmental factors that can pose a serious threat to employees without touching them. Examples of physical hazards are fire, extreme temperatures, and closed spaces.
Some workplaces experience an increased risk of fire due to the nature of work and types of workers. For instance, care homes, restaurants, hotels, food and beverage manufacturing industries are highly exposed to fire safety incidents.
Fire hazards can inflict severe injuries, including burns, asphyxiation, and fatalities.
Working in closed spaces is dangerous for health due to a shortage of oxygen and the potential risk of harmful gasses, including carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and other volatile organic compounds.
It can lead to explosions, fires, flooding, and workplace collapse. Employees working in the cold storage industry, tunnels, mines, shipyards, wells, manholes, and air ducts are at high risk of developing asphyxiation and collapse.
In addition, physical hazards also include exposure to extreme temperatures or cold conditions of employees at the workplace. It can cause devastating effects on health, including trench foot, chilblains, hypothermia, reduced dexterity, and mental alertness.
Workers who perform their duties in icy environments outside or inside are exposed to physical hazards.
For example, cold storage employees, refrigerated warehouses, the construction industry, food and beverage manufacturers, and emergency relief operations face more physical hazards.
On the flip side, exposure to constant and extreme heat can also result in serious health risks, including dehydration, dizziness, and dehydration.
Workers in great danger of developing risks caused by extremely high temperatures include welders, restaurant staff, smelters, launderers, and bakers.
- Safety Hazards
Safety hazards create unsafe working environments for employees. Unguarded machinery poses a severe safety threat to employees. They can unintentionally contact these machines and sustain injuries such as bruises, loss of limbs, broken bones, head injuries, or even death.
Other safety hazards include faulty or trailing electric cords, cables, or wiring resulting in electric shock, fire, and burn. In addition, frayed or loose carpets or rugs and wet flooring can also cause a trip, slip, or fall in the workplace.
- Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is also a common health problem caused by unhealthy practices at the workplace. In the United States, almost 12% of the entire workforce experience difficulty in hearing.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), field workers of mining, manufacturing, and construction industries need better safety strategies for hearing. Hearing loss and other auditory problems are also prevalent in healthcare staff.
- Mental Health Disorders
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the most common mental health disorder caused by unhealthy workplace practices.
In the United States, excessive stress at the workplace causes 120,000 deaths and nearly $190 billion in expenditure in terms of health care costs annually.
Employees working at high-pressure workplaces, including military and law enforcement agencies, are more exposed to developing PTSD.
It is always better to get enough information about workplace-related hazards and other diseases to address them before they get worse or out of control.
All workers should follow safety measures and wear proper safety gadgets to get them safe from workplace-related hazards.
Organizations and businesses must also implement the latest safety standards to comply with government agencies to provide safer and healthier workplaces to employees.
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