Hazards in the Workplace and Monitoring Systems

Jessica Glass, Contributor

In the current industry, it is important to be aware of all the different hazards that could potentially affect your workforce and how to prevent them. This article will look at common types of work hazards and what monitoring systems help prevent injuries to enhance a workplace’s industrial hygiene and safety standards.

Types of Hazards

Heat-stress monitoring modifies the safety culture from reacting/treating heat-related illness to being proactive and preventing it from occurring instead. (photo courtesy Adobe Stock Images)

There are several types of hazards to be aware of in the workplace. More common hazards are listed here below:

  • Airborne hazards: This involves particulates like dusts, gas, fumes, mists, aerosols and fibers; all of which can be dangerous when inhaled by humans.
  • Chemical hazards: This involves solids, liquids, gasses, mists, dusts, fumes and vapors in the environment. Chemicals become a hazard when they are inhaled, come into contact bare skin or are ingested.
  • Biological hazards: This includes bacteria, viruses, fungi and other living organisms. The organisms can enter the body through breaks in the skin, or through inhalation, absorption or ingestion—causing severe, sometimes chronic, infections.
  • Ergonomic hazards: These are defined as hazards involving motion/movement that puts unnecessary strain on the body or places the body at risk of physical harm due to the motions involved in specific tasks. Repetitive motion tasks in particular pose a high risk for becoming ergonomic hazards.
  • Physical hazards: These hazards are defined as excessive exposure to physical stimulants, such as noise, illumination, temperature, vibration, and both ionizing and non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation. Radiation risks are not common in most industries, but the other physical hazards are often evident in a variety of work environments.

Types of Monitoring Solutions

Luckily, there are ways to combat these safety issues in the workforce, including safety monitoring systems. Three commonly used systems are listed and described below:

Boundary/ Environmental Monitoring:

Boundary or “fence line” monitoring  is primarily used on construction sites and other high-risk locations, like demolition projects, mines, quarries and environmental remediation sites.

“Boundary monitoring units are set up on the exterior perimeter of the worksite to monitor for potential hazards that might cause compliance issues for the sit or present a health risk to workers and site neighbors.” (IHW) It’s an indispensable part of safety and risk management for these worksites, helping to control and alleviate potential environmental and health hazards.

Additionally, and luckily, there is a variety of different solutions available for this type of monitoring. Some are dedicated to specific hazards, such as dust, noise or vibration-monitoring systems. “While a variety of different monitoring solutions can be employed and combined to give a full picture of site emissions and risks, increasingly project managers and occupational hygienists are turning to combined solutions.” (IHW)

Gas Monitoring:

“Whether new or retrofit construction, monitoring hazardous gases in industrial plants that process pulp and paper, as well as at loading docks and receiving areas, is often crucial to safety, compliance and productivity.” (IHW) Exposure to toxic gases can come from a wide variety of sources and are particularlly dangerous in partly/totally enclosed spaces. Detecting dangerous gases with multipurpose monitoring systems can speed compliance and construction project completion, as well as minimize the risks to worker’s safety.

Heat-Stress Monitoring:

Finally, we look at the benefits of a well-implemented heat-stress monitoring program. Heat-stress monitoring modifies the safety culture from reacting/treating heat-related illness to being proactive and preventing it from occurring instead. A common monitoring system measure the environmental heat in facilities is called the wet bulb globe temperature, (WBGT). It is superior to the common heat index, because it factors in radiant heat in its readings, which is the effect the sun has on a worker outdoors.

“A WBGT meter is the most accurate tool for adjusting the temperature for heat stress factors, including humidity, air movement (i.e., wind), radiant heat and temperature. To help safeguard workers against heat stress, the WBGT data can be referenced against work to rest and hydration guidelines from ACGIH, OSHA, ISO or NIOSH.” (IHW)

To conclude, it is very important to be aware of the potential hazards in your workspace. Making plans to safeguard workers and stay in compliance is a critical part to running a successful business and incorporating effective industrial hygiene practices in your workspace. IHW

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