A physical hazard is an issue, circumstance, or agent found in your surroundings with the potential to cause physical damage, injury, or death.
Physical Hazard Details
A physical hazard exists in your environment and puts you in danger of injury, disease, or even death. Physical hazards can be artificial or man-made. Others are naturally occurring in the environment. Within the workplace, most hazards are caused by humans or human error. When the surroundings are organized carelessly, employees and customers may be at risk of injury.
Management will often determine and manage most physical hazards to avoid possible worker injury. If a customer or worker gets an injury within the workplace caused by a physical hazard, the organization could face a lawsuit. The organization may also be forced to compensate an injured worker who cannot work short-term or indefinitely.
Physical Hazard Example
There are many types of physical hazards within the workplace. The most common one is fire. Fire in the workplace can be hazardous if not controlled and used the way it should be. In the case of a restaurant setting, fire is a necessary aid to ensure that the business is running and providing its services. But it can quickly get out of control—it escalates quickly.
Say, for example, an employee named Peter is in charge of emptying the deep fryers daily and cleaning out the used oil. If Peter gets sloppy and leaves the used oil near an open flame, it can easily catch fire and spread rapidly.
If Peter works close to Jane, the cashier, the fire may spread quickly to her station. Jane may suffer burns or smoke inhalation from the fire triggered by Peter's sloppiness. Should the fire spread quickly, even the customers will be at risk of injury from the fire hazard. While this may be Peter's mistake, a good lawyer shows how an organization's lack of supervision led to the fire outbreak in the first place.
Types of Physical Hazards
In an organization, there are many potential physical hazards in different places. Some of these things may be more common than others, but they still pose a considerable risk to everyone in the organization. Here are some of the more common physical hazards present in workplaces the world over.
Electricity is a deadly physical hazard that everybody in any workplace is exposed to daily. The degree of exposure varies. However, you'll be able to feel the devastating effects of electrical faults for a protracted time. Exposure to electric wires that are not insulated may cause dangerous electrical shocks, explosions, and even fires. Poor electrical wiring is also a culprit for an electric hazard.
To mitigate this hazard, make sure that a professional installs all the wiring. Additionally, carrying out regular assessments of electric wires running through basements is key. Another precaution to take is to put up warning signs where electricity meters and high voltage wires run.
Extremely High or Low Temperatures
Exposure to extreme temperatures, either freezing or boiling hot, is a potential physical hazard in the workplace. Some employees work in extreme temperatures as part of the job requirements. Such occupations include welders, glass blowers, and steelworkers.
Additionally, workers who operate in jobs that have extremely low temperatures are also at risk of low-temperature hazards. They include divers, seamen, and off-grid researchers. Such workers often have to sign a form indemnifying the organization of any consequences if they get hurt in the line of duty. However, an organization should take all necessary measures to ensure that their workers are safe by providing protective equipment and gear at all times.
Most, if not all, workplaces have a fire hazard risk. Some businesses carry a larger risk of fire compared to others due to the nature of their operations. Fires have devastating effects on both buildings and people. They can raze a building in a matter of minutes and cause death or injury via smoke inhalation or burn injuries. To mitigate this hazard, a company can take a fire risk assessment and take the mandatory precautions laid out in the law. Such safeguards include placing fire extinguishers in strategic positions, having a fire escape, and having regular fire drills.
Confined areas carry associated risks like minimized oxygen levels, minimal area to maneuver, and build-up of gases resulting in potential explosions. All of these factors are a hazard since they carry health risks to workers under these conditions. Additional risks that go with confined areas include the chance of collapse of structures and flooding.
Miners and deep-sea divers may be especially at risk of this hazard. While their job is potentially risky, all stops should be pulled to ensure that any injuries or deaths were utterly unforeseen. Organizations in this line of business should take on insurance for their workers and provide safety gear and equipment.