Physical Hazards...An Overview
Physical hazards are external factors or circumstances in the work environment that cause harm, generally upon contact. Each year, these types of hazards account for the largest number of accidents in the workplace. With physical hazards, accidents on the jobsite are best prevented with awareness of site conditions and the potential hazards, vigilance while performing work tasks and the use of appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to best suit the jobsite and task at hand. A variety of common physical hazards are found on every jobsite, which includes Object Hazards, Situational Hazards, and Environmental Hazards.
Object-Related Physical Hazards
Physical hazards on the jobsite are often related to contact with a physical object, usually in motion, that causes pain, tissue damage or worse. This category of physical hazards includes injury from contact with a moving tool or blade, being struck by a moving vehicle or falling equipment, pinching fingers in a truck door, shock from a live electrical wire and being cut or caught by moving parts of machinery, among others.
Situational Physical Hazards
With higher risk occupations, physical hazards on the jobsite can be related to the situation the worker is in to complete the task at hand. Some examples of situational physical hazards include falling while working at height, hearing loss due to working with or near excessively noisy equipment, slipping on a wet floor and a variety of hazards resulting from working in or near confined spaces, trenches and bodies of water.
Environmental Physical Hazards
Environmental physical hazards involve all of the non-living environmental factors that can negatively affect human health on the jobsite. Some examples include sunburn from excessive sun exposure, illness from exposure to radioactive materials, frost bite from extremely cold temperatures, heat stress from extremely hot temperatures and the hazards resulting from working in strong winds, precipitation and lightning storms.