A hazard is a potential source of harm. Substances, events, or circumstances can constitute hazards when their nature would allow them, even just theoretically, to cause damage to health, life, property, or any other interest of value. The probability of that harm being realized in a specific incident, combined with the magnitude of potential harm, make up its risk, a term often used synonymously in colloquial speech.
Hazards can be classified in several ways. They can be classified as natural, anthropogenic, technological, or any combination, such as in the case of the natural phenomenon of wildfire becoming more common due to human made climate change or more harmful due to changes in building practices. A common theme across many forms of hazards in the presence of stored enegy that, when released, can cause damage. The stored energy can occur in many forms: chemical, mechanical, thermal, radioactive, electrical, etc. Situations can also be hazardous, for example, confined or limited egress spaces, oxygen-depleted atmospheres, awkward positions, repetitive motions, low-hanging or protruding objects, etc. They may also be classified as health or safety hazards and by the populations that may be affected and the severity of the associated risk. In most cases, a hazard may affect a range of targets and have little or no effect on others.
A biological hazard, or biohazard, is a biological substance that poses a threat to the health of living organisms, primarily humans. This could include a sample of a microorganism, virus or toxin that can adversely affect human health. A biohazard could also be a substance harmful to other animals.
Biological hazards, also known as biohazards, originate in biologocal processes of living organisms and refer to agents that pose a threat to the health of living organisms, the security of property, or the health of the environment.
A chemical can be considered a hazard if by its intrinsic properties it can cause harm or danger to humans, property, or the environment. A chemical hazard is asubstance that has the potential to cause harm to life or health. Chemicals are widely used in the home and in many other places. Exposure to chemicals can cause acute or long-term detrimental health effects.
Chemical burn image.
Ergonomic hazards are physical conditions that may pose risk of injury to the musculoskeletal system, such as the muscles or ligaments of the lower back, tendons or nerves of the hands/wrists, or bones surrounding the knees, resulting in a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD).Ergonomic hazards are physical conditions that may pose a risk of injury to the musculoskeletal system, such as the muscles or ligaments of the lower back, tendons or nerves of the hands/wrists, or bones surrounding the knees. Ergonomic hazards include things such as awkward or extreme postures, whole-body or hand/arm vibration, poorly designed tools, equipment, or workstations, repetitive motion, and poor lighting. Ergonomic hazards occur in both occupational and non-occupational settings such as in workshops, building sites, offices, home, school, or public spaces and facilities.
Many types of equipment can reduce the risk from ergonomic hazards in the workplace.
A mechanical hazard is any hazard involving a machine or industrial process. Motor vehicles, aircraft, and air bags pose mechanical hazards. Compressed gases or liquids can also be considered a mechanical hazard.
Mechanical hazards are hazards created by the use of or exposure to either powered or manually operated equipment, machinery and plant. Mechanical injuries are mostly caused either by contact or entanglement with machinery. Part of the machinery that could be hazardous to workers include sharp edges, hot surfaces, moving parts, flywheel, pulley, belt, etc.
It occurs majorly in three (3) area:
- The point of operation: Point where work is performed on the material, such as cutting, shaping, boring, etc
- Power transmission apparatus: Components of the mechanical system that transmit energy to the part of the machine performing the work. Example, flywheels, pulleys, belts, connecting rods, couplings, cams, spindles, chains, cranks, gears, etc.
- Machine moving parts: Parts of the machine that move while the machine is working. These may include reciprocating, rotating, and transverse moving parts, as well as feed mechanisms and auxiliary parts of the machine.
A physical hazard is an agent, factor or circumstance that can cause harm with contact. They can be classified as type of occupational hazard or environmental hazard. Physical hazards include ergonomic hazards, radiation, heat and cold stress, vibration hazards, and noise hazards.
A physical hazard is a naturally occurring process that has the potential to create loss or damage. Physical hazards include earthquakes, floods, fires, and tornadoes. Physical hazards often have both human and natural elements. Flood problems can be affected by the natural elements of climate fluctuations and storm frequency, and by land drainage and building in a flood plain, human elements. Another physical hazard, X-rays, naturally occur from solar radiation, but have also been utilized by humans for medical purposes; however, overexposure can lead to cancer, skin burns, and tissue damage.
Psychological or psychosocial hazards are hazards that affect the psychological well-being of people, including their ability to participate in a work environment among other people. Psychosocial hazards are related to the way work is designed, organized, and managed, as well as the economic and social contexts of work, and are associated with psychiatric, psychological, and/or physical injury or illness. Linked to psychosocial risks are issues such as occupational stress and workplace violence, which are recognized internationally as major challenges to occupational health and safety.
Good work is good for people’s mental health and wellbeing. It provides structure and purpose, a sense of identity, and opportunities to develop skills and increased feelings of self-worth.There are some circumstances, however, where work has undesirable impacts on health and wellbeing.
A natural hazard is a natural phenomenon that might have a negative effect on humans and other animals, or the environment. Natural hazard events can be classified into two broad categories: geophysical and biological. Natural Hazards is devoted to original research work on all aspects of natural hazards, including the forecasting of catastrophic events, risk management, and the nature of precursors of natural and technological hazards.
Although hazards can originate in different sources and systems, such as atmospheric, hydrologic, oceanographic, volcanologic, seismic, neotectonic, the environmental impacts are equally catastrophic. This warrants a close interaction between different scientific and operational disciplines, aimed at enhancing the mitigation of hazards.
Coverage includes such categories of hazard as atmospheric, climatological, oceanographic, storm surges, tsunamis, floods, snow, avalanches, landslides, erosion, earthquakes, volcanoes, man-made and technological, as well as risk assessment.
Natural hazards such as earthquakes, floods, volcanoes and tsunami have threatened people, society, the natural environment, and the built environment, particularly more vulnerable people, throughout history, and in some cases, on a day-to-day basis. According to the Red cross, each year 130,000 people are killed, 90,000 are injured and 140 million are affected by unique events known as natural disasters.
Anthropogenic hazards are hazards caused by human action or inaction. They are contrasted with natural hazards. Anthropogenic hazards may adversely affect humans, other organisms, biomes, and ecosystems. The frequency and severity of hazards are key elements in some risk analysis methodologies.