|Your Health and Safety at Work: A Collection of Modules - Your Body at Work (ILO, 1996, 40 p.)|
How does the body fight hazards?
The human body has natural defence systems which help to protect you against many hazards (dangers). These defence systems also help the body to heal (repair) itself when it gets injured or sick. However, there are hazards - arising from bacteria, viruses, chemicals, dusts, vapours, noise, extreme temperatures, work processes, etc. - to which you may be exposed (which are around you) at work or in the general environment, that can break down (weaken) the body's defence systems.
What kinds of hazards exist in the workplace?
Some common hazards that may be in your workplace include:
· chemical hazards, arising from liquids, solids, dusts, fumes, vapours, gases;
· physical hazards, such as noise, vibration, unguarded machinery, unsatisfactory lighting, radiation, extreme temperatures (hot or cold);
· biological hazards, from bacteria, viruses, infestations, infectious waste;
· psychological hazards, resulting from stress and strain;
· non-application of ergonomic principles, resulting in poorly designed machinery and tools or poorly designed work practices.
Since your body's defence systems cannot always win the fight against these hazards, it is important for you to learn what hazards exist in your workplace and what controls are necessary to prevent exposures. Hazard awareness will help you when you work with your union and employer to eliminate hazards.
Points to remember
1. Occupational exposure to hazards can break down your body's defence systems.
2. Occupational hazards need to be controlled for a workplace to be safe and healthful.
3. Some common workplace hazards are:
· chemical hazards
4. It is important to learn about occupational hazards, including how exposure to such dangers can affect your health and how to protect yourself from exposure to such dangers in the workplace.