Unsafe Work Environments: What You Need to Know

Posted January 28, 2022 by in Career
barista with yellow beanie working

A safe working environment is the best way to keep employees safe and reduce the risk of accidents and fatalities. On the other hand, unsafe working environments result in hazardous situations for all employees. In fact, an unsafe or poor working environment can even affect the mental and physical health and wellbeing of workers.

If you are working in an unsafe environment and become injured, it is within your rights to search for “lawyers Phoenix” and reach out.

So, what is an unsafe environment? And what effects does it have if it’s not handled correctly?

Barista making an iced latte

What is an Unsafe Work Environment?

When an employee is unable to perform their duties safely, they are working in an unsafe environment. Hazardous materials, broken equipment, dangerous chemicals, exposed wires, etc; all contribute to a hazardous environment that could turn deadly when coupled with unsafe acts.

Unsafe acts include disregarding correct procedures or bypassing safety devices, damaged or improper PPE, blocked walkways, and alcohol and drug use.

There are three main types of hazards in an unsafe working environment – they are classified as ergonomic, biological, and chemical hazards.

Ergonomic Hazards

Ergonomic hazards require actions or movements while doing your job that put any kind of strain on your body.

This can be caused by using awkward or repetitive movements, lifting heavy objects, or even your work environment – such as an uncomfortable workstation or poor lighting.  

Chemical Hazards

When your job requires you to be exposed to hazardous chemicals in the form of solids, liquids, or gas, this constitutes a chemical hazard.

Chemical hazards include vapors, fumes, solvents, flammable materials, and cleaning products. Carbon monoxide, asbestos, and gasoline are classed as chemical hazards.

Biological Hazards

Biological hazards occur as a result from working with plants, people, and animals.

Biological hazards include animal droppings, any blood or bodily fluids, insect bites, and viruses and bacteria.

The Effects of an Unsafe Work Environment

Working in an unsafe working environment can have a devastating and long-lasting affect on workers and their families – emotionally, physically, and financially.

The pain or possible death due to an accident in an unsafe working environment is a heavy burden for the worker, the worker’s family, and the community to bear. Accidents that cause disability mean that the worker involved can’t work, and these injuries also take a toll on the worker’s emotional wellbeing.

According to a report by The American Society of Safety Engineers, the effects of an accident that results in death impact more than a company’s financial cost to the company – a fatal accident in the workplace can also affect the other employees’ mental health and result in less productivity.

What You Can Do

If you work in an unsafe environment, you can refuse to work in unsafe conditions until your employer addresses your concerns.

However, you must have a reasonable belief that the unsafe conditions could result in a serious injury or death if not seen to immediately, and reporting the conditions to OSHA will put employees in danger in the interim.

Employers are responsible for ensuring that their employees are working in safe conditions. They do this by implementing the appropriate health and safety protocols and making sure that the workplace complies with OSHA regulations.