As a contractor, there are workplace hazards that you’ll hear and see in your career that are terrible. You’ll wonder if they are something that can be avoided in the future, but in fact, there are ways to avoid workplace hazards now. While there are some hazards that are unavoidable, most hazards can be prevented with the right precautions.
Identifying Workplace Hazards
Each type of workplace can present different kinds of hazards. As a contractor, it’s up to you to determine the best plan of action in approaching and getting rid of the hazard.
There are some hazards that will be present in some areas and not in others. It all depends on what type of contractor you are. You could be a general contractor, in which you’ll have to avoid all of these hazards, or you can specialize in an area like plumbing, electricity, roofing, or painting. Some of these hazards will be more relevant to your work than others but it’s important to note all of them on the off chance you do have to deal one.
Common Health Risks from Hazards
Workplace hazards often result in some bodily harm to your person that vary in degrees of severity. A few of the health risks you could encounter on the job include:
- Skin irritation from contact with an irritant in the home or construction site
- Respiratory issues that result from breathing in an irritant that was already at the workplace or was brought in.
- Hearing damage from wearing improper, or no, headgear while at a major construction site.
- Damage to joints, bones, and muscles from equipment or structures falling by accident or improper procedures.
The Most Common Culprits
While there are a number of individual hazards you’ll face when working as a contractor, it’s important to identify what category each hazard falls into so you can properly handle each one. Here are the four major categories of workplace hazards.
- Physical Hazards. A physical hazard is typically defined as any hazard where a factor of the physical surrounding poses a threat to the body without necessarily having contact with the body. These hazards include vibrations and sounds that can cause hearing damage. Other physical hazards include electricity, pressure, heights, falling objects, heat, slips, trips, falls, and construction work.
- Ergonomic Hazards. These hazards are physical factors in a workplace that harm the musculoskeletal system. They include issues like repetitive movement, workplace design, poor body positioning, workstation height, and manual handling. Ergonomic hazards are often seen in workplaces like offices, but they can also affect contractors. The way contractors may lift things, the insufficient time they may give themselves for breaks, the mental and physical stress they put on themselves, and the temperature extremes they work in can all factor in as ergonomic hazards.
- Chemical Hazards. As a contractor, you’ll come into contact with chemicals that are dangerous, and you’ll need to know how to handle them. Chemical hazards are any mixture, substance, or material that can be classified based on their physicochemical and health dangers and risks. Chemical hazards are the ones that can cause skin irritation and respiratory problems when they come into contact with your person or are breathed in. Contractors face these hazards in the form of Asbestos, paints, powders, and airborne contaminants.
- Biological Hazards. Biological hazards are substances that are organic that pose a threat to your health. These hazards include viruses, fungi, spores, pathogenic microorganisms, bio-active substances, and toxins. Across the globe, it’s estimated that about 320,000 workers die from communicable diseases that were caused by work-related exposure to biological hazards each year. Contractors risk contact with biological hazards when they deal with sewage and wastewater and are exposed to mold and yeasts.
Ways to Avoid Hazards
To properly avoid and protect yourself from all kinds of workplace hazards, it’s important to identify where and what the hazard is. From there, you need to manage it the best way possible and take precautions to prevent potential harm. For aspiring contractors, finding the tools you need to deal with the hazards you’ll face when you pass your exam and go into the field can be difficult. Luckily, the Contractors Institute has the tools you need to succeed in your field.