Common Hazards

Health & Safety Week 2022

The previous four days have focused on things you can do proactively to lead a healthy life and stay safe. Today is about situations and hazards that pop into your path or space and require immediate action to avoid serious injury.

Despite your best efforts, you're going to be faced with situations that are going to need your attention and action. Being informed and prepared is the best defense against "Murphy's Law". 

In Day Five, we look at Common Hazards. 

CommonHazardsBanner-1Avoid falling in the winter by walking on plowed sidewalks and clearing and salting/sanding your driveway.

Health and Safety professionals have identified ten of the most common types of hazards that you are likely to experience in the workplace and at home. These are hazards related to working at height, chemicals, housekeeping, electrical, forklifts, lockout/tagout and confined spaces.

In no particular order, the ten major hazards in the workplace:

  • Falls and falling objects
  • Slipping or tripping
  • Chemical exposure
  • Housekeeping
  • Fire hazards
  • Electrical hazards
  • Repetitive motion injury
  • Working near motorized vehicles.
  • Using or working near machinery
  • Workplace violence

Watch how H&S consultants identify areas of potential hazards.

Falls and falling objects

In 2018/2019, falls were leading cause of injury hospitalization among all ages in Canada. Working at heights at home or at work requires special attention.UnintentionalInjuries

  • Before using any ladder or stepladder, make sure it opens fully.
  • Check that ladder extensions are fully locked and that the ladder legs are stable on a flat, non-slippery surface.
  • Clean off any slippery material on the rungs, steps, or feet of a ladder before you use it.
  • Don’t go over the load limit noted on the ladder.
  • Always have a spotter.
  • Use a harness and anchor whenever possible.
  • If work is being done overhead, wear a safety-certified helmet and PPE. Avoid working directly below others.
  • Beware of wet, slick or uneven surfaces.
  • Wear proper footwear.

Repetitive motion/strain injury

Repetitive motion injuries are caused by overuse of a particular muscle or group of muscles. As a result of this overuse, microscopic tears develop in the tissue. When the body can't repair these tears as fast as they're being made, inflammation occurs, causing pain and other symptoms.

The causes of repetitive strain injuries can be classified in the following ways:

  1. Rapid movement injuries, caused by repeated rapid movements;

  2. Forceful movement injuries, cause by exertion of muscle movement;

  3. Static loading injuries, caused by fixed positioning with unsupported limbs.

Prevent RMI/RSI.

HubSpot Video


Chemical exposure

When it comes to chemical exposure, almost every workplace and home in Canada has some risk.

From workers in chemical plants to offices where substances like bleach or surface disinfectants may be lying around (especially with increased hygiene protocols around COVID-19), most workers are brought into contact with chemicals in some capacity.

  1. Knowing how to properly handle and read labels is an imperative.

  2. Understand the Whimis Health Hazards Classes

  3. Know the location of your eye station and emergency shower (if required)

  4. Speak up and alert someone if you think you've been exposed.

WHMIS 2015 classifies chemical hazards into 2 groups: physical hazards and health hazards. These groups are further broken down by hazard class with 20 physical hazard classes, that describe harm such as fires or explosions, and twelve health hazard classes, defining the types of harm that can occur to humans. Each of the health hazards have their own concerns. If you work with chemicals regularly ensure you are reading the WHIMIS handbook and staying up to date safety guidelines.

Tripping hazards

Often called "slips, trips and falls", slip is when you lose your footing, trip is when you catch your foot on or in something, and fall is when you come down suddenly.Tripping-1

Spills, ice, snow, rain, loose mats, rugs, and stepladders are some of the common causes of slips, trips, and falls. In addition, poor lighting and clutter can cause injuries such as sprains, strains, bruises, bumps, fractures, scratches, and cuts.

  • If you see something you might slip or trip on, tell your supervisor right away.
  • Clean up spills and anything slippery. Check with your supervisor about how to use cleaning products. Don’t use cleaners that could make the floor slippery.
  • Clear walkways, stairs, and lobbies of anything that might be a tripping hazard, such as cords, wires, empty boxes, and clutter.
  • Make sure that floor mats lay flat rather than wrinkled or bunched.
  • Use handrails when you walk up and down steps.


Definitely not everyone's favourite chore, but a clean workspace eliminates a lot of potential injuries by giving room to work, avoiding spills, things fall over and being able to find things quickly in an emergency. Plus, a clean workplace can improve productivity and looks professional.

To help manage your space, a few suggestions are:

  • Clean everything before you finish your shift.
  • Label items and put them away.
  • When you empty a container, throw it out and replenish or order more.
  • Limit dust - especially in a workplace. Dust can cause machinery to work properly, cause the floor to be slippery and can get in your eyes.
  • Clean up any spills immediately.

Common home hazards

Most, if not all, of the above hazards are also relevant for homes, accept we often do not take the same precautions and definitely not the same rigour and training. For example, proactively reading house cleaning labels and understanding the poison labels are often a nice-to-do but we never make time.  And yet, those we love the most, are often most at risk.

  • Make a point of saving the poison control number on your phone.
  • Post your pediatrician or doctor's number AND Poison Control's number where a babysitter can find them.

Some more common home hazards include falls, poisoning, carbon monoxide, fire hazards drownings, choking, sharp objects, stoves, dishwashers and suffocation. 

Read more on prevention here.