Michael Burgis & Associates, P.C.

What are the types of hazards that cause workplace injuries?

Safety authorities in California prescribe strict safety standards in all industries, tasking employers with the responsibility to protect the health and safety of their employees. Safety hazards that could cause workplace injuries exist in all occupational settings, and steps must be taken to mitigate them. Being able to recognize the different types of risks can help with taking precautions to avoid them.

Physical hazards are present in all work environments, and this category includes slip, trip-and-fall risks, sharp objects, heavy machinery, electrical hazards, excessive noise, and fall from elevated work areas -- among others. Another type is ergonomic hazards, which refer to workplace conditions that cause progressive bodily injuries in the long term. These include repetitive motion injuries, one of which carpal tunnel syndrome that affects the hand and wrist. Inadequate lighting cause eyestrain, and office furniture placed at awkward angles or heights that do not suit the workers pose ergonomic risks.

Chemical hazards include solvents, cleaning products, gasoline, carbon monoxide, smoke, paint and even asbestos. Any chemicals that can be ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin can cause illness or injury. Similar hazards are living organisms that are classified as biological hazards. Working with people or animals creates exposure to airborne pathogens, and contact with bodily fluids and blood can also cause illnesses. Outdoor workers might also be exposed to other biological hazards such as insects and infectious fungi and plants.

Being able to recognize hazards might limit the chances of suffering occupational injuries and illnesses, but it will not eliminate the risks of workplace injuries. Victims in California might be eligible for workers' compensation benefits to cover medical expenses and lost wages. An attorney who has experience in dealing with the state-regulated insurance system can assist with the administrative and legal processes in pursuit of the maximum allowed benefits.

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