Workplace Hazard Management

A workplace hazard is anything that can cause harm. It can be any condition, practice or source in the work environment that has the potential to cause harm to employees. Hazards can come in many different forms and can vary depending on the industry and type of work being performed. It is essential for hazards to be identified and controls put in place to ensure the safety and well-being of all employees.

Common Types of Workplace Hazards

Hazards can come in many different forms, but the following are some of the most common. 


1. Safety Hazards 

These are the most common hazards seen in high-risk work environments such as construction sites and can be due to unsafe work practices or the environment.

  • Slippery or uneven surfaces: Surfaces that are wet, oily, icy, or have loose objects can lead to slips, trips, and falls.
  • Inadequate lighting: Insufficient lighting can hinder visibility, increasing the risk of accidents and injuries.
  • Electrical Hazards: such as damaged cords, absent ground pins, or incorrect wiring.
  • Confined spaces 
  • Working at heights: includes working on scaffolding, ladders & roofs.
  • Equipment and machinery: operating dangerous machinery such as forklifts, lockout tagout procedures and hand and power tool handling.
  • Lack of personal protective equipment (PPE): Failure to provide or utilise appropriate protective gear, such as helmets, gloves, goggles, or respirators.
2. Physical hazards 

Physical hazards, contrary to their name, are not always easily detectable or tangible. In fact, they can be the least obvious compared to other types of hazards.

Physical hazards refer to environmental factors that can cause harm to the body without direct contact and can include such things as noise, radiation, pressure, excessive exposure to sunlight or ultraviolet rays, gases, and extreme temperatures. 

  • Noise hazards: Exposure to excessive noise levels that can cause hearing damage or impair communication and concentration.
  • UV Exposure: Working outdoors or in settings with strong UV radiation, such as construction sites or agricultural fields, can pose a risk of skin damage, sunburns, and long-term health effects, including an increased risk of skin cancer.
  • Temperature Extremes: hot and cold
  • Exposure to radiation: ionizing working with radioactive materials or in facilities like nuclear power plants or radiology departments can cause various health issues, including radiation sickness and an increased risk of cancer. Or exposure to Non-Ionizing Radiation, such as electromagnetic fields from electronic devices, radiofrequency radiation from wireless communication, or laser radiation, can have detrimental effects on health, including skin burns, eye injuries, or thermal damage.
3. Psychosocial or operational hazards

Psychosocial hazards or business operational hazards can cause both physical and psychological harm, such as stress and mental health problems. Typical Hazards include can include: 

  • Workload and Work Pace: Excessive work demands, long hours, tight deadlines, or unrealistic expectations can lead to stress, burnout, and a lack of work-life balance.
  • Job Insecurity: Fear of job loss, temporary employment contracts, or uncertain future prospects can cause significant stress and anxiety among workers.
  • Lack of Control and Autonomy: Having limited decision-making authority or being micromanaged can lead to feelings of frustration, reduced job satisfaction, and increased stress levels.
  • Poor Work Relationships: Conflict, bullying, harassment, or a hostile work environment can negatively impact mental health, job satisfaction, and overall well-being.
  • Lack of Support: Inadequate support from supervisors, colleagues, or the organization itself, such as insufficient training, poor communication, or lack of resources, can contribute to stress and feelings of isolation.
  • Poor Job Design: Monotonous or repetitive tasks, low task variety, or lack of opportunities for skill development and growth can result in reduced job satisfaction and motivation.


4. Chemical hazards

A chemical hazard refers to the potential dangers associated with the preparation and use of chemicals in the workplace and can affect the health of workers in different ways. 

Chemical substances can enter the body through inhalation, skin contact, or swallowing. Symptoms can be immediate, such as vomiting, nauseous, suffering burns or breathing difficulties. Or long-lasting, including asthma, skin conditions, liver damage, or cancer.

  • Hazardous Substances: Exposure to toxic, corrosive, flammable, or reactive chemicals like those used in manufacturing processes, cleaning agents, or pesticides.
  • Asbestos: Disturbing or working with asbestos-containing materials without precautions releases harmful fibres into the air, leading to lung diseases like asbestosis and mesothelioma.
  • Respiratory Hazards: Inhaling substances like silica dust, welding fumes, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), or allergens can result in respiratory irritation, lung diseases, or allergic reactions.

Proper safety measures, ventilation, and protective equipment are crucial to minimize exposure and protect workers' health in the presence of these chemical hazards.

5. biological hazards 

Biological hazards can be encountered in various workplaces, including healthcare facilities, schools, laboratories, agricultural environments, and natural ecosystems. Those who work with people, animals or infectious plant materials are usually most at risk, for example, in nursing homes, farms, hospitals, schools or laboratories. 

Biological hazards can be transmitted through direct contact with infected individuals, ingestion or inhalation of contaminated substances, or exposure to contaminated objects or surfaces. Some biological hazards workers may come across:

  • Infectious Diseases: Exposure to bacteria, viruses, or fungi in healthcare, labs, or unsanitary areas can spread diseases like Hepatitis B, tuberculosis, or vector-borne illnesses.
  • Blood, bodily fluids or matter
  • Airborne pathogens such as the common cold
  • Biological toxins: Toxins produced by living organisms, such as venomous animal bites, animal droppings or marine biotoxins.
  • Allergens: Substances like animal dander, pollen, or latex proteins found in workplaces such as labs or agriculture can trigger allergies, respiratory problems, or allergic reactions.
6. Ergonomic Hazards

Physical conditions that may cause harm or pose a risk to a worker's body, such as musculoskeletal or wear and tear injuries. Often seen in jobs that require repetitive movement, awkward postures, stationary positions, and forceful motions.

  • Poorly Designed Workstations: Improperly adjusted chairs, desks, and computer setups can lead to discomfort, strained posture, and musculoskeletal issues.
  • Manual Handling: Lifting heavy objects without proper techniques or equipment can cause strains, back injuries, and muscle fatigue.
  • Repetitive Motion Tasks: Performing repetitive motions without breaks or ergonomic support can lead to repetitive strain injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

Hazard Management

What is Hazard Management?

Hazard management is the process of identifying, assessing, and controlling potential workplace hazards to ensure employees' safety and well-being. 

The primary reason for managing hazards is to prevent harm to employees, as hazards can result in injury, illness, or even death.

It is a critical aspect of workplace health and safety and has several important benefits, including:

  • Reducing the likelihood of work-related injury and illnesses.
  • Reduced costs: such as workers' compensation claims, medical expenses, or equipment repairs 
  • Improved productivity: A safe workplace improves employee morale and motivation, leading to higher engagement and performance.
  • Enhanced reputation: A strong safety record can help attract and retain employees and win contracts and new business.
  • Regulation Compliance: Hazard management is often required by law.

Hazard Identification

Generally, businesses will carry out a Risk Assessment to identify and prioritise hazards in the workplace. This process involves identifying potential hazards, evaluating the likelihood and severity of harm, and taking steps to control the risks.

Industry standards and regulators also provide guidelines for identifying and controlling hazards in the workplace. Employers should be familiar with these standards and regulations and take steps to comply with them.

Hazard identification usually occurs:

  • At the start of a new project or job
  • At the start of a new shift (often mentioned in toolbox talks)
  • When new equipment or processes are introduced in the workplace
  • If there is a spike or occurrence of injuries or incidents (are there any trends?) 
  • During any work shift 
Employees are often the best source of information about hazards in the workplace. Employers should encourage employees to report any concerns or incidents that may indicate the presence of a hazard.

The steps to complete a hazard assessment 

A hazard assessment is a systematic process for identifying, evaluating, and controlling potential hazards in the workplace. The following steps can be taken to conduct a hazard assessment:

Identify potential hazards: Start by identifying potential hazards in the workplace, including physical, chemical, biological, ergonomic, and stress hazards. This can be done through workplace inspections, employee input, and reviewing injury and illness records.

Evaluate the likelihood and severity of harm: Once potential hazards are identified, the next step is to evaluate the likelihood and severity of harm. Consider factors such as the frequency of exposure, the magnitude of harm, and the number of employees affected.

Determine the level of risk: The level of risk associated with a hazard is determined by considering both the likelihood and severity of harm. Hazards that pose a high level of risk should be given priority for control.

Identify control measures: The next step is to identify control measures that can be taken to reduce the risk posed by the hazard. This can include engineering controls, administrative controls, or personal protective equipment.

Implement control measures: Once control measures have been identified, they should be implemented to reduce the risk posed by the hazard. This may involve making physical changes to the workplace, providing training, or purchasing personal protective equipment.

Monitor and review: The final step is to monitor and review the effectiveness of the control measures. Regular monitoring and review can help ensure that hazards are effectively controlled and that any new hazards are identified and addressed.

Common controls for hazards

Examples of Controls for Hazards

Controlling hazards in the workplace is an important step in ensuring the safety and well-being of employees. Here are some steps that can be taken to control hazards in the workplace:


Make physical changes to the workplace to reduce risk. E.g. install guards, remove tripping hazards, and improve ventilation.


Implement policies, procedures, and training programs. E.g. equipment training, ergonomic programs, and safe work procedures.

Personal Protective Equipment:

Provide equipment such as safety glasses, hard hats, gloves, respirators, and other types of protective gear


Replace a hazardous substance or process with a less hazardous alternative. E.g. replace a toxic cleaning agent with a safer, non-toxic alternative.


Remove the hazard altogether. E.g. eliminating a task that requires employees to work at heights by using a lift or other mechanical means.


Separate workers from the hazard by using barriers or other means. E.g. use barriers to separate employees from hazardous machinery.

Tools to identify and report hazards

Managing hazards using pen and paper is not an efficient or effective way to gather safety information, especially when a timely response is crucial.

Using the Lucidity App, workers on the ground can quickly report hazards both online and offline, ensuring that important details such as description, immediate response, time, date, location, and classification are captured. The app is user-friendly, making it easy for anyone to report hazards.

Lucidity offers a centralised solution that categorises incidents, non-conformances, and hazards based on their level of risk. With a built-in database and workflow, businesses can easily report, analyse, and address issues related to HSEQ.

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