Request a Demo

Fill in the form below and we will contact you shortly to organised your personalised demonstration of the Noggin platform.

The Noggin Platform

The world's leading integrated resilience workspace for risk and business continuity management, operational resilience, incident & crisis management, and security & safety operations.

Learn More
Resilience Management Buyers Guide - Thumbnail
A Resilience Management Software Buyer's Guide
Access the Guide

Who We Are

The world’s leading platform for integrated safety & security management.

Learn More

6 Types of Workplace Hazards

Workplace injuries and illnesses don’t come out of the blue. They’re often the product of workplace hazards that haven’t been successfully prevented, controlled, or eliminated.

But what are workplace hazards themselves? We're breaking down the 6 types of workplace hazards. 

What’s a workplace hazard?

So, what’s a workplace hazard? A hazard is the potential for harm, with hazards including all aspects of technology and activity that produce risk.

Hazards contribute to workplace risk. How risks are perceived affects how they’re managed, though, and their subsequent effect on organizational processes.

Indeed, this is a leading challenge for safety management: different people perceive risk differently.

Workers, as the academic literature argues, have difficulty in determining whether a given risk will turn into serious harm or injury. And what typically effects their perception is personal experience.

Such as?

Near misses, for instance, tend to lead workers to perceive a similar situation as high risk or hazardous.

Are workplace hazards the same as workplace harms?

But are hazards themselves harms? There’s often conflation between the two terms, but they have distinct meanings.

Although not a harm itself, a hazard has the potential to produce harm.

Meanwhile, harm, as we understand it in safety management, refers to the effects posed by hazards.

In sum, a hazard is a potential source of harm to a worker, property, or the environment. Harm, on the other hand, is the negative aftermath of a hazard, e.g., injury or damage to a person, place, or thing.

Types of workplace hazards

Thinking of hazards as potential sources of harm underscores how many potential hazards there are in the workplace. And we can group these hazards into types.

How many types of workplace hazards are there? We’ve singled out the following six:

1. Safety hazard

This group of hazard includes any tangible object that has the potential to complement or interfere with the performance of a task. Examples include equipment malfunctions, equipment breakdowns, inappropriate machine guarding, tripping, and slipping hazards, etc.

2. Biological hazard

These are disease producing agents (pathogens) that can be transmitted to individuals through various routes of exposure (modes of transmission). Exposure to these hazards, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), may result in acute or chronic health conditions.

Workers in healthcare, laboratories, and some outdoor occupations are most likely to be exposed to biological hazards.

3. Chemical hazard

Any form of chemicals including medications, solutions, gases, vapors, aerosols, and particulate matter that are potentially toxic or irritating to the body system.

4. Physical hazard

In safety management, these are the potential risks that can cause physical harm or injury to workers due to physical agents, factors, or conditions present in the workplace.

5. Ergonomic hazard

Ergonomic hazards are physical factors in the environment that may cause musculoskeletal injuries. They form part of a broader category of enviro-mechanical hazards, i.e., aspects of the workplace that can cause or increase risk for accidents, injuries, strains, or discomfort. Examples of ergonomic hazards include insufficient or inadequate equipment, hazardous flooring, and poor workstation design.

6. Psychological hazards

These are factors in the work environment that can cause stress, strain, or interpersonal problems for the worker.

According to the research[i], the hazards that contribute to mentally unhealthy workplaces include:

Job design

Demands of the job, control in the work environment, resources provided, the level of work engagement, the characteristics of the job, and potential exposure to trauma.

Team/group factors

Support from colleagues and managers, the quality of interpersonal relationships, effective leadership, and the availability of manager training.

Organizational factors

Changes to the organization, support from the organization, recognizing and rewarding work, how justice is perceived in an organization, a psychosocial safety climate, positive organizational climate, and a safe physical environment.

Home/work conflict

The degree to which conflicting demands from home, including significant life events, interfere with work.

Individual biopsychosocial factors

Genetics, personality, early life events, cognitive and behavioral patterns, mental health history, lifestyle factors and coping style.

The role of duty of care

What’s the point of hazard identification? Safety teams have to identify hazards before they can assess the risk posed by each individual hazard and determine the appropriate controls that will need to be put in place to keep workers safe.

Safety teams don’t just engage in hazard assessment and identification out of the goodness of their own hearts, though. They are required to by law.

In many safety regimes, this legal obligation is referred to as the duty of care. This is an obligation placed on certain actors to act towards others in a certain way, in accordance with certain standards. The standards themselves vary depending on context.

In the context of duty of care in workplace health and safety, the obligation usually means the employer responsibility (or duty) to do whatever is “reasonably practicable” to protect the health, safety, and wellbeing of employees. And what is “reasonably practicable” is taking steps to identify and mitigate common workplace threats, whether they be chemical, physical, psychological, etc.

What’s more, the duty of care health and safety at work obligation extends to contracted workers, volunteers, clients, and members of the public, as well.

Specific measures to meet duty of care obligations

Employers, however, don’t just need to know who counts as workers for the purposes of duty of care. They also need to know what measures to take to ensure they meet their legal obligations to those workers.

Here, the persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the following is done:

  • The provision and maintenance of a work environment without risks to health and safety
  • The provision and maintenance of safe plant and structures
  • The provision and maintenance of safe systems of work
  • The safe use, handling, and storage of plant, structures, and substances
  • The provision of adequate facilities for the welfare at work of workers in carrying out work for the business or undertaking, including ensuring access to those facilities
  • The provision of any information, training, instruction, or supervision that is necessary to protect all persons from risks to their health and safety arising from work carried out as part of the conduct of the business or undertaking
  • That the health of workers and the conditions at the workplace are monitored for the purpose of preventing illness or injury of workers arising from the conduct of the business or undertaking.

Safety management software for risk mitigation

How then to properly mitigate the threats posed by identified hazards before they turn into tangible harms facing your workers? Safety management software can help. These are platforms that offer all the information and tools that organizations need to effectively manage all health and safety incidents, risks, and hazards.

Here, integration of all aspects of workplace health and safety in a single platform is key. Rather than having data spread across varying solutions (both digital and manual), with solutions like Noggin, teams can easily relate their incidents and hazards to their own organization structure, buildings, sites, plant and equipment, materials, and other assets, while using hundreds of pre-configured reports and analytics.

But don’t just take our word for it. Check out Noggin for Safety Management for yourself.

New call-to-action



[i] Dr. Samuel B Harvey et al, School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales: Developing a mentally healthy workplace: A review of the literature: A report for the National Mental Health Commission and the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance. Available at