Hazards at work can be classified as follows.

• Physical hazards Physical hazards are those associated with physical agents, such as heat, noise, vibration and humidity, friction and pressure, together with inadequate lighting and ventilation. People may suffer conditions such as heat stroke, noise-induced hearing loss, bursitis, visual fatigue and hand-arm vibration syndrome as a result of exposure.

• Structural hazards These include hazards associated with the structure of buildings, such as floors, staircases, windows, doors and gates. People are exposed to the risk of falling from a height, falling through open windows, falls on the same level and being struck by a door.

• Chemical hazards Many people are exposed to hazards from chemical substances used at work, such as acids, solvents, alkalis and dangerous substances, such as asbestos and lead. Exposure can result in many ill health conditions, such as lead poisoning, acid burns, occupational cancers, asbestosis and occupational dermatitis, the most common of all occupational diseases.

In considering chemical hazards, not only must the nature of the substance be considered, but also its form, e.g. a gas, fume, dust, etc.

• Biological hazards Harmful exposure to various forms of microorganism, such as bacteria and viruses, may arise in some occupations. These organisms which cause disease may be

• animal-borne in the case of zoonoses, such as brucellosis;
• vegetable-borne, as with aspergillosis (farmer’s lung); or
• associated with humans, as in the case of viral heptatitis.

• Psychological hazards Over the last decade, considerable attention has been paid to stress at work and the risk of employees contracting psychiatric injury. Stress-induced injury may arise as a result of too much or too little responsibility, conflicting job demands, deficiencies in interpersonal skills or incompetent superiors. Bullying and harassment at work may be a contributory factor in stress-induced ill-health.

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