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Environmental workplace hazards can cause career-ending injuries

The General Duty Clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act mandates that employers nationwide, including California, must provide safe workplaces. They must address all known risks. Employers must protect workers from suffering serious personal injury or death that environmental hazards could cause.

Under federal law, your employer must protect you from environmental hazards that include harmful lighting, noise, surrounding hazards like uneven floors, dust, cold and heat stress, and more.

Unseen hazards

Some of the most significant dangers in your job might not be visible, and you must limit exposure to the following hazards:

  • Working in extremely cold conditions
  • Spending many hours exposed to the ultraviolet rays of the sun or radiation
  • Exposure to excessive noise that can cause progressive hearing loss

Take care not to disregard less obvious hazards.

Biological hazards

These hazards refer to biological substances that threaten the health of humans and other living organisms, and if you gain knowledge about the following, you can take precautions:

  • Sources include plants, insects, animals, birds, viruses, bacteria and other humans.
  • They can be present in fungi, mold, blood, animal droppings and viruses.
  • Biological hazards can cause allergies, skin irritations, infections like AIDS, tuberculosis, respiratory problems and even cancer.

These can appear or disappear in any workplace, depending on various factors.

Chemical hazards

If your job involves handling chemicals, your employer must implement protocols to eliminate or minimize the following health risks:

  • Exposure to corrosives, vapors, fumes, dust and liquids that contain chemicals can harm you.
  • You must receive training to inform you of the chemicals you will handle and the dangers they pose.
  • Safety training is crucial to teach you how to protect yourself from exposure.
  • Chemical hazards can enter your body by ingestion, inhalation and skin absorption.
  • It can cause sensitization, skin irritation and carcinogenicity.

OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard describes your employer's duty to provide information and safety training about working with chemicals.

Electrical hazards

Thousands of workers suffer injuries in workplace accidents that involve electricity each year, and taking note of the following might keep you out of harm's way:

  • Many falls from elevated workspaces like platforms or scaffolds follow electric shocks.
  • Shocks caused by contact with underground power cables are prevalent among construction workers.
  • Working at a height that puts you close to overhead power lines is dangerous.
  • Incorrect handling of machinery and electric tools cause many electrical shocks.

Never do electrical jobs that require a qualified electrician if you are not one.

Ergonomic hazards

According to OSHA, these hazards are common in all industries:

  • Ergonomic injuries can cause disabling damage to muscles and joints.
  • You are at risk if you do manual work that requires lifting and carrying heavy loads.
  • Repetitive stretching to reach objects or tools in hard-to-reach storage is risky.
  • Tasks that require awkward body positions pose injury risks.

Long-term exposure to ergonomic hazards could cause career-ending injuries.

How will you cope with injuries?

Now that you are aware of environmental hazards and the threats they pose, you might be able to prevent debilitating injuries and illnesses. However, if you do fall victim to such injuries, the California workers' compensation insurance program will have your back. You could utilize the skills of an experienced workers' compensation attorney to navigate the benefits claims process while you focus on recovering and getting back to work.

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  • San Jose: 408-624-8420
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  • San Luis Obispo: 805-475-3890

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