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It’s very easy to lose one’s cool in the work place with its competition, higher expectations on performance and longer working hours raising the psychological stakes. Work-related stress affects both genders in both developing and developed nations. Consequently United Nations theme for this year’s World Day for Safety and Health is ‘Workplace Stress: A collective challenge’.

It is held on April 28  and has been observed by the International Labour Organization (ILO) since 2003. April 28 is also associated with the world’s trade union movement’s commemoration of victims of occupational accidents and diseases.

Every year some two million people lose their lives to accidents and diseases at work. In addition, 270 million occupational accidents and 160 million occupational diseases are recorded each year, incurring US$ 2.8 trillion economic losses in working hours, medical expenses, compensation and rehabilitation. However, these can be prevented.

Apart from endangering lives companies incur damage to property or workplace environment due to occupational hazards. There are six main types of occupational hazards: Psychological hazards, Physical hazards,Chemical hazards, Biological hazards,
Mechanical hazard and Environmental hazards.

Psychological hazards
As mentioned earlier task and role demands,
organisational leadership, lack of group cohesion, intergroup and interpersonal conflicts and life and career changes lead to job related stress. This in turn leads to fatigue and exhaustion. All these affect employee health.

Psychosocial hazards include lack of job satisfaction, insecurity, poor interpersonal relations and work pressure. Work stress can result in psychological and behavioral changes including hostility, aggressiveness, anxiety, depression, alcoholism, drug addiction, sickness absenteeism

Psychosomatic disorders like hypertension, headache, body-ache, peptic ulcers, asthma, diabetes, heart disorders.

Physical hazards
Physical hazards relate to diseases due to physical aspects of the environment such as heat, cold, light and noise. For example heat causes exhaustion, syncope, cramps, burns and prickly heat. Workers are predisposed to heat related illnesses excessive physical activity, old age, poor physical condition, fatigue, excessive clothing, dehydration, cardiovascular disease, skin disorders, obesity and use of certain pharmaceutical drugs and narcotics such as Phenothiazines, Anticholinergics, Diuretics, Amphetamines and Cocaine.

Improper lighting conditions can result in occupational cataract, extreme noise results in deafness, exposure to radiation at workplace causes cancer and electricity could result in burns and electric shocks.

Chemical hazards
Common chemicals, such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide,
hydrocarbons, sulphuric acid, tannic acid, acetic acid, fumeric acid, ozone, limes and alkalies cause health complications when human skin comes into contact with human skin. These chemicals can also be inhaled or ingested. This could result in respiratory diseases, skin diseases, allergy, heart disease, cancer and neurological disorders. These diseases may be temporary or chronic in nature.

Such diseases are often difficult to diagnose as
symptoms maybe latent for many months or even years. These diseases often shorten employee life expectancy.
Biological hazards

Bacteria, fungi, viruses, insects, dietary deficiencies, excessive drinking, allergies, brain fever, imbalances, tetanus, stresses and strains in the workplace can cause biological hazards. They take a toll on employee health and results in many lost working hours and health treatment costs.

Mechanical hazards
Mechanical hazards include injuries due to falls, cuts, abrasions, concussions, contusions and ergonomic disorders such as Musculo-skeletal disorders (MSDs) resulting from repeated movements, required by a certain job, due to overuse of muscles, bad posture and repeated tasks and Cumulative-trauma-Disorders (CTDs) brought on by excessive wear and tear on tendons, muscles and sensitive nerve tissue caused by continuous use over an extended period of time

Environmental hazards
Environmental hazards may include many forms of pollution such as noise, water and air pollution and the gamut of environmental issues that is brought with them, such as vibration and shocks, issues related to illumination, radiation, heat and ventilation. These hazards cause redness of eyes, genetic disorders, cancer, sterility, hearing loss, nerve injury and many other illnesses in workers.

Psychological hazards
Poor interpersonal relations, lack
of job satisfaction, insecurity
Psychological and behavioural changes: Hostility, aggressiveness, anxiety, depression, alcoholism
Psychosomatic disorders:
Hypertension, headache,
body-ache, peptic ulcers, asthma, diabetes, heart disorders

Routes of entry of chemical
Nose: inhalation
Mouth: ingestion
Skin: absorption

Psychological hazards
Poor interpersonal relations, lack
of job satisfaction, insecurity
Psychological and behavioural changes: Hostility, aggressiveness, anxiety, depression, alcoholism
Psychosomatic disorders:
Hypertension, headache,
body-ache, peptic ulcers, asthma, diabetes, heart disorders

Chemical agents‘WORKING’ ENVIROMENT (1)
Metals: Lead, As, Hg, Cd, Ni , Co
Aromatic Hydrocarbons: Benzene, Toluene, Phenol
Aliphatic Hydrocarbons: Methyl alcohol

Mechanical hazards‘WORKING’ ENVIROMENT (4)
Injuries: Falls, cuts,
abrasions, concussions, contusions, Overuse of muscles from repeated movements – Ergonomic disorders: Musculo-skeletal disorders (MSDs)
Excessive wear and tear on tendons, muscles and sensitive nerve tissue Cumulative-trauma-Disorders (CTDs)

Environmental hazards‘WORKING’ ENVIROMENT (5)
Noise pollution
Water pollution
Air pollution

Vibration and shocks: Affects central nervous system – nerve injury
Illumination: Cataract
Radiation: Cancer, genetic disorders
Heat: Burns, exhaustion
Ventilation: Asphyxiation

‘WORKING’ ENVIROMENT (3)