What are occupational hazards?

We all face hazards and dangers at work. However, they vary wildly between different sectors, industries and workplaces. Occupational hazards are often inescapable and they may even deter you from taking certain jobs or following particular career paths. But what are they and how are they commonly dealt with? What are occupational hazards? Occupational hazards are the risks and dangers associated with particular jobs and professions. They can be common across different workplaces, but they are typically specific to certain environments and circumstances. Occupational risks are typically factors or potential circumstances that can put your health and safety at risk while at work. One profession or job role can experience significantly different hazards from another. For example, a vet can be at risk of bites and infection from animals, whilst a landscaper may be at greater risk from accidents with power tools or strains from carrying heavy loads or lifting fence panels into place.  Hazards in the workplace aren’t just limited to certain professions, they’re prevalent even in the most comfortable and sheltered work environments. Office workers can be vulnerable to risks such as eye strain, bad posture and, as seen in every workplace, mental health issues. What are the different types? There is a broad range of occupational hazards, which can be categorised into a few types. We explain these briefly below: Physical – these hazards are some of the easiest to identify and mitigate, although the risks are always there. Slips, trips and falls, accidents with tools or vehicles and extreme noise or temperature exposure are all examples of hazards that can damage the physical health and wellbeing of workers. Psychological – any risks that are considered to be damaging to someone’s mind or mentality are known as psychological hazards. Workplace bullying, chronic stress, discrimination, isolation and abuse at work can all be extremely tough to deal with and can have serious mental repercussions if not recognised and managed. Mental health issues do not discriminate and are common in all types of workplaces.  Chemical – risks around chemical exposure, whether direct or indirect, are hazards that workers must contend with in many industries. These can cause short-term injury and also increase the chances of long-term chronic illness or disease. Asbestos, for example, was handled by builders and tradespeople for decades before it was deemed harmful to inhale its fibres. Biological – some professions must consider biological risks such as disease, viruses and parasites. These are more common in health care, animal care and other scientific settings where exposure is heightened. Ergonomic – workplaces and workstations should be designed and created to reduce the risk of ergonomic hazards. These are risks associated with posture and the impact of routine work on the human body. For example, poor posture whilst sitting at a desk can lead to spinal issues and back pain. Working in an uncomfortable position regularly can increase the risk of chronic pain and discomfort, so it’s crucial that you work as ergonomically as possible.

What are occupational hazards?

We all face hazards and dangers at work. However, they vary wildly between different sectors, industries and workplaces.

Occupational hazards are often inescapable and they may even deter you from taking certain jobs or following particular career paths. But what are they and how are they commonly dealt with?

What are occupational hazards?

Occupational hazards are the risks and dangers associated with particular jobs and professions. They can be common across different workplaces, but they are typically specific to certain environments and circumstances. Occupational risks are typically factors or potential circumstances that can put your health and safety at risk while at work.

One profession or job role can experience significantly different hazards from another. For example, a vet can be at risk of bites and infection from animals, whilst a landscaper may be at greater risk from accidents with power tools or strains from carrying heavy loads or lifting fence panels into place. 

Hazards in the workplace aren’t just limited to certain professions, they’re prevalent even in the most comfortable and sheltered work environments. Office workers can be vulnerable to risks such as eye strain, bad posture and, as seen in every workplace, mental health issues.

What are the different types?

There is a broad range of occupational hazards, which can be categorised into a few types. We explain these briefly below:

Physical – these hazards are some of the easiest to identify and mitigate, although the risks are always there. Slips, trips and falls, accidents with tools or vehicles and extreme noise or temperature exposure are all examples of hazards that can damage the physical health and wellbeing of workers.

Psychological – any risks that are considered to be damaging to someone’s mind or mentality are known as psychological hazards. Workplace bullying, chronic stress, discrimination, isolation and abuse at work can all be extremely tough to deal with and can have serious mental repercussions if not recognised and managed. Mental health issues do not discriminate and are common in all types of workplaces. 

Chemical – risks around chemical exposure, whether direct or indirect, are hazards that workers must contend with in many industries. These can cause short-term injury and also increase the chances of long-term chronic illness or disease. Asbestos, for example, was handled by builders and tradespeople for decades before it was deemed harmful to inhale its fibres.

Biological – some professions must consider biological risks such as disease, viruses and parasites. These are more common in health care, animal care and other scientific settings where exposure is heightened.

Ergonomic – workplaces and workstations should be designed and created to reduce the risk of ergonomic hazards. These are risks associated with posture and the impact of routine work on the human body. For example, poor posture whilst sitting at a desk can lead to spinal issues and back pain. Working in an uncomfortable position regularly can increase the risk of chronic pain and discomfort, so it’s crucial that you work as ergonomically as possible.