Avoiding common workplace hazards

Avoiding common workplace hazards

At Marshall Health, we are continuously working to provide a safe and friendly work environment for our employees.

Even with this goal, there are many work-related hazards that can lead to injuries. The most common of these are called safety hazards. These include spills on tables and floors along with other tripping hazards such as loose cords, rugs and objects blocking walkways. Safety checks are done to prevent these hazards from causing any injuries. Machinery, power tools, scaffolding, ladders and other equipment used in the work field are also considered safety hazards.

This is why employees must make sure they are educated on the machinery and are handling and stowing equipment properly. Asking for help when needed and not rushing through work activity may help eliminate these work-related injuries.

Environmental factors such as temperature, noise and sunlight/ultraviolet exposure are considered physical hazards and can cause the employee harm. Minimizing exposure to these hazards are the keys to prevention. Using hearing protection can prevent hearing loss. Proper clothing, sunscreen and hydration can prevent sun and heat-related injuries. Proper protection from the cold can prevent frostbite.

Another area of concern for us, especially as physicians, are biological hazards. These include exposure to blood and other bodily fluids along with exposure to viruses and other infectious diseases.  It is important that all employees use proper protective equipment, such as gowns, gloves and masks to prevent these illnesses. Vaccinations are also important in helping prevent the spread of these communicable diseases.

Ergonomic hazards, which cause strain on the body because of the work conditions or body positions, are hard to identify but are also present. Making sure your workstation is clear of clutter and adjusting heights of chairs and desks can remedy this problem. The use of good posture and monitoring your activity of repetitive motions and lifting are important in managing these types of injuries.

Chemical hazards are another type of workplace hazard that can be prevented. Proper storage and disposal of products are keys to preventing injury. Again, the use of proper protection when using chemicals as well as good ventilation are important in prevention. If you become concerned about a chemical exposure, find the MSDS sheets and seek help from your supervisor to expedite any treatment that may be needed.

Common workplace hazards such as these can be avoided with proper training, education, equipment and time.

For more information or to schedule an onsite visit or training session with our occupational medicine specialists, please call Marshall Family Medicine at 304-691-1191.


Nick N. Chongswatdi, MD

Dr. Chongswatdi is a double board-certified family medicine physician who specializes in occupational, environmental & disability medicine. He is an assistant professor in the department of family & community health at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.