Injury Prevention

How To Identify and Control Common Workplace Hazards

Learn how to identify and control common workplace hazards, focusing on musculoskeletal health and ergonomic risks.

The most common workplace hazards aren’t flashy, they aren’t highlighted with caution tape, they come in the form of ergonomic risks which lead to musculoskeletal disorders. With every new innovative technology, new profitable manufacturing method, or office management system introduced, one of the most important factors of workplace efficiency continues to be the well-being of employees. Prioritizing musculoskeletal health reduces costly injuries, improves employee wellbeing, and performance and in the most extreme scenarios can stop fatalities in the workplace.  

From the corridors of office spaces to the bustling warehouses and the humming machinery of manufacturing plants, various hazards remain, posing potential risks to the physical and mental well-being of workers. We’ll explore these hazards, shining a spotlight on musculoskeletal health in the workplace and those ergonomic hazards that can affect them while briefly touching upon the potential impacts of other types of hazards like biological and chemical hazards.

Controlling Workplace Hazards across Industries

What are the most common types of workplace hazards?

  1. Office Environments:

Office spaces, often associated with a sedentary workstyle, may not look like risky work environments, but they can be filled with ergonomic risk factors. An everyday activity like prolonged sitting, coupled with improper workstation setups, can be the catalyst for physical hazards and musculoskeletal discomforts leading to musculoskeletal health problems. The prevalence of tasks requiring repetitive motions, such as typing or using a mouse, further exacerbates the risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders like carpal tunnel syndrome or lower back pain.

  • Improper Workstation Setup: Desks and chairs that are not adjustable or that are positioned incorrectly can lead to poor posture and musculoskeletal strain. Additionally, monitors that are positioned at improper heights, or that are off center can cause neck and eye strain.

  • Repetitive Tasks: Tasks such as typing on keyboards or using a mouse for extended periods without proper support can contribute to repetitive strain injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome or tendonitis.

  • Sedentary Behavior: Prolonged sitting without adequate breaks or opportunities for movement can lead to stiffness, muscle imbalances, and increased risk of chronic conditions such as obesity and cardiovascular disease. This field of study is rapidly evolving so keep an eye on new innovations!

  • Poor Lighting: Insufficient lighting or glare on computer screens can cause eyestrain, headaches, and discomfort, impacting productivity and overall well-being.

While musculoskeletal and other potential hazards are prevalent in office environments, other risks associated with ergonomic designs like mismatched interactions, leading to discomforts and pain, chair/desk comfort, or mental health detriments like workplace stress should also be considered.

Your Solutions: Introducing adjustable chairs and desks, promoting regular movement, training employees on utilizing proper workstation setups, and conducting ergonomic assessments can mitigate these risks. For an in-depth look at reducing office discomfort, Check out our Top Ergonomic Tips for the Office!

2.     Warehouses:

In warehouses, the nature of working conditions often revolves around manual material handling, which presents its own array of hazards. Lifting heavy objects incorrectly or without proper equipment can lead to strains, sprains, or even more severe injuries. Additionally, the presence of cluttered pathways increases the likelihood of safety risks like slips, trips, and falls, further endangering workers' musculoskeletal health.

  • Manual Material Handling: Repetitive lifting, carrying, and moving heavy objects \can lead to strains, sprains, and back injuries.

  • Slips, Trips, and Falls: Cluttered aisles, uneven flooring, or spilled liquids increase the risk of slips, trips, and falls, one of the leading causes of workplace injuries. Read this blog all about reducing your risk for slips, trips, and falls from Briotix Health as well. Cut out tripping hazards ASAP!

  • Heavy Machinery: Driving forklifts, loading and unloading conveyor belts, or interacting with other industrial equipment without proper training and an understanding of risks can result in serious injuries or musculoskeletal disorders stemming from repetitive motions or prolonged awkward posture.

In addition to musculoskeletal risks, warehouses also present hazards such as exposure to extreme temperatures, chemical spills, or falling objects, which can lead to burns, respiratory issues, or traumatic injuries. Many of the most common hazards in this environment can be seen in manufacturing plants or on a construction site as well.

Your Solutions: Equip work areas with lifting aids when high forces or repetitions are involved. Maintaining tidy workspaces and ensuring adequate lighting can enhance safety in warehouses, and providing training on safe lifting techniques can help to protect workers from musculoskeletal disorders. An on-site industrial athletic trainer has the experience and knowledge to properly address each of these problem areas as well!

3.     Manufacturing Plants:

Manufacturing environments generally refer to settings where workers collectively produce a common good. You might see scaffolds, heavy machinery, many moving parts and other types of equipment. Workers in this setting are often wearing PPE and may face risk factors such as exposure to vibration, repetitive motions, and high force applications. These conditions can contribute to musculoskeletal disorders like hand-arm vibration syndrome, tendonitis, and herniated discs.

  • Vibration Exposure: Operating vibrating tools or machinery without adequate vibration damping measures can lead to hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), causing numbness, tingling, and reduced dexterity.

  • Repetitive Motions: Assembling, packaging, or operating machinery with repetitive motions can cause musculoskeletal disorders such as tendinitis, bursitis, or carpal tunnel syndrome.

Beyond musculoskeletal risks, manufacturing plants also contend with hazards such as exposure to hazardous chemicals, electrical hazards, prolonged loud noise exposure, and proximity to rapidly moving mechanical devices. Constant awareness of your surroundings is vital to safety in a manufacturing environment.

Your Solutions: Performing ergonomic risk assessments will quantify the ergonomic risk factors associated with musculoskeletal disorders in these environments. The understanding of risk you gain from these assessments leads to potential solutions like conducting regular equipment maintenance, and supplying appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), each being a crucial step in safeguarding musculoskeletal health in manufacturing plants.

The Importance of Hazard Mitigation

By optimizing the interaction between workers and their environment and eliminating occupational safety hazards wherever possible, a responsible and safe workplace aims to reduce the risk of injury while enhancing productivity and overall well-being.

Key Safety Principles:

  1. Workstation Design: Design and adequately equip workstations to accommodate various body sizes to work in safe postures, promoting safety and wellness.

  2. Proper Posture: Educate employees on the importance of maintaining neutral body positions to alleviate strain on muscles and joints.

  3. Movement and Breaks: Encourage movement breaks, mandate scheduled breaks, and incorporate stretching exercises to counterbalance prolonged static postures.

  4. Training and Education: Provide comprehensive training programs to raise awareness about ergonomic best practices and risk factors.

Keeping track of all of these pieces can be difficult in addition to running a functioning workplace. Check out the Briotix Health Sheet “How to Identify Ergonomic Risk Factors” to see where your company falls on the safety chain!

Brief Overview of Biological and Chemical Hazards

While musculoskeletal health and ergonomics are important in common workplace safety discussions, with OSHA reportables spanning a massive range of incidents, it's essential to acknowledge the presence of biological and chemical hazards.

Biological Hazards:

These hazards stem from exposure to biological agents such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Workplaces such as healthcare facilities or laboratories may pose risks of infectious diseases or allergens. Much like other workplace safety issues, properly adhering to safety protocols and remaining aware of your surroundings can help significantly reduce the risk of biological hazards.

Chemical Hazards:

Chemical hazards arise from exposure to harmful substances like gases, vapors, or toxic liquids. Industries dealing with hazardous chemicals, such as transportation, manufacturing, and agriculture, face risks of acute toxicity or long-term health effects like cancer. Safety managers must have specific plans in place for the handling of all chemical hazards no matter their severity from skin irritation and onward. Adhering to these plans keeps employees safe and health.


A thorough understanding of workplace hazards is crucial for implementing effective safety measures that prioritize musculoskeletal health and employee wellness. By addressing these hazards proactively, employers can create safer work environments that promote employee well-being and productivity. However, it's essential to recognize that workplace safety is multifaceted, and no singular solution can address every risk in your workplace. A team of experts with a range of customizable solutions is capable of prioritizing and adapting to every situation, ensuring your teams wellness, beyond the short-term. Through a comprehensive approach that integrates ergonomic interventions, employee training, and robust safety protocols, organizations can foster a culture of safety and health in the workplace, ensuring the optimal functioning of both individuals and the business as a whole.

If you are looking for the team with a comprehensive approach to workplace ergonomics to enhance your safety culture and workplace health, reach out to a Briotix Health solutions advisor today.


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