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5 Hidden Workplace Hazards

Not every safety hazard is obvious. Many workplace injuries and health-related problems can sneak up on employers and employees alike. In turn, these hidden hazards can lead to further injury, lost productivity, and other serious accidents. Here are five “invisible” safety risks every workplace should consider.

1: Posture and repetitive strain

Resume and job posting site Monster, for example, cites posture as an example: working in the same position every day, particularly if the worker uses poor posture, can result in a huge variety of conditions including back pain, repetitive strain conditions, soreness, varicose veins, and more.

2: Emotional trauma

We normally think of workplace safety as concerning physical injury (like falls) or illness (like respiratory disorders from breathing in asbestos), but mental health and emotional well-being can be put at risk as well. For example, bullying and harassment can cause emotional havoc, resulting in reduced morale, falling productivity, increased turnover, and — in extreme cases — increased risk of self-harm.

3: Workplace violence

Workplace violence — including physical assault, shootings, and other forms of violence — is unfortunately far more common than it should be. Every year, 2 million American workers report having been victims of workplace violence, according to the National Safety Council (NSC). In fact, violence is the third leading cause of workplace fatalities for healthcare workers.

4: Stored Energy

This is definitely a workplace hazard that not enough people understand or appreciate. Stored energy refers to electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, thermal, or chemical energy stored in machines and equipment. If that stored energy is released inadvertently, it can potentially cause serious injury. This can include situations like an electric shock from mishandling industrial batteries or powered equipment, chemical burns from an unintentional chemical reaction, or being suddenly caught in moving equipment. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that failure to control stored energy accounts for nearly 10% of serious accidents.

5: Fatigue

survey from the NSC “found 90 percent of U.S. employers have been negatively impacted by tired employees, with half reporting that they’ve had an employee fall asleep on the job,” according to OHS Online. The NSC further found that 13% of workplace injuries can be attributed to fatigue. According to the survey, 57% of employers have experienced absenteeism. Another 32% reported injures and near-misses because of employee fatigue.


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