Environmental Safety Hazards 241

Environmental Safety Hazards details the risks of chemical, biological, physical, and ergonomic hazards in the work environment. Hazard exposure can cause injury and illness, causing short- and long-term effects. Many hazards can be detected using the senses, but special equipment is sometimes necessary. There are many forms of hazard communication, including SDS. Using PPE diminishes risks posed by exposure to environmental hazards. There are government agencies that help assure employees’ safety by creating standards and legislation and studying hazards. However, the employer is ultimately responsible for providing a safe and hazard-free environment.

Awareness of environmental safety hazards can prevent employee injury, reducing time off and workplace accident rates. After taking this course, users will be able to identify various hazards in the workplace and their possible effects on the human body.

  • Difficulty Intermediate

  • Format Online

  • Number of Lessons 18

  • Language English


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Course Outline
  • Environmental Safety Hazards
  • Types of Potential Hazards
  • Forms of Chemical and Biological Exposure
  • Forms of Chemical and Biological Materials
  • Environmental Hazards Basics
  • Forms of Physical and Ergonomic Exposure
  • Illness vs. Injury
  • Levels of Harm
  • Acute vs. Chronic Exposure
  • Exposure Limits
  • Exposure and Levels of Harm Review
  • Detecting Exposure
  • Interaction and Sensitivity
  • Hazard Communication
  • Hazard Communication Continued
  • Regulation of Environmental Safety Hazards
  • Protection from Environmental Safety Hazards
  • Interaction, Sensitivity, and Hazard Communication Review
  • Define environmental safety hazards.
  • Identify the major categories of environmental hazards.
  • Identify methods of chemical and biological exposure.
  • Describe the different forms of chemical and biological exposure.
  • Describe the forms of physical and ergonomic exposure.
  • Distinguish between illness and injury.
  • Describe the different factors that determine the harm levels of hazards.
  • Distinguish between acute and chronic exposure.
  • Define exposure limits.
  • Describe methods of detecting exposure to environmental hazards.
  • Describe common factors that affect exposure to environmental hazards.
  • Describe information included in hazard communication.
  • Describe information included in hazard communication.
  • Describe the role of organizations in regulating environmental safety hazards.
  • List the ways employees should respond to environmental hazard exposure.
Vocabulary Term


The concentration or build-up of a substance or effect. Accumulation indicates a failure to recover.

acute exposures

Exposure that occurs suddenly or over a short period of time. Acute exposure occurs either once or a few times within a very short period.


A fluid-resistant or impermeable cover that shields the torso to the mid-calf. Aprons provide protection against exposure of the body to hazardous materials.


An organic chemical compound that is often used as a solvent. Benzene is hazardous.

biological hazards

Naturally occurring substances that may be harmful to employees. Biological hazards may include mold, human waste, or bloodborne pathogens.

bloodborne pathogens

Hazards carried by the blood. Employees may be exposed to bloodborne pathogens when another employee has an injury that results in bleeding.


Any type of the various malignant cells that surround and invade nearby tissue. Carcinogens in MWFs have been greatly reduced.

chemical hazards

Substances, mixtures of substances, or synthetic substances that are harmful to employees. Harmful chemicals may occur in the form of liquids, vapors, fibers, or dust.

chronic exposures

Exposure that occurs over a long period of time. Chronic exposure to even small amounts of a hazard can cause injury or illness over time.


A finish used for protective and decorative purposes. Coatings like paint or varnish are applied to products in an industrial manufacturing setting as a component of the part creation process.


The liquid that has been converted from a vapor or gas. Condensation collects on cold surfaces when the air is humid.


The amount of exposure to a hazard. Higher levels of exposure usually cause greater harm.


The length of time of exposure to a hazard. Breathing hazardous fumes for a few seconds is harmful, but breathing them for a few minutes may be deadly.

electromagnetic waves

Oscillating waves from magnetic fields. Electromagnetic waves are produced by the motion of electric charges such as electric current.


The surroundings in a given place. The workplace environment consists of various components, including noise and air quality.

environmental components

The factors that make up an environment. In the workplace, these include noise, air quality, machine vibration, workstation height, and any materials contacting the employee.

environmental hazards

Components in the workplace environment that can cause injury, illness, or death. Some hazards cannot be avoided.

Environmental Protection Agency

EPA. The government agency responsible for administrating laws to control and reduce the pollution of air, water, and land systems. The EPA carries on federal research, monitoring, standard-setting, and enforcement activities to ensure environmental protection.

ergonomic hazards

Physical factors within the environment that harm the musculoskeletal system. Ergonomic hazards include uncomfortable workstation height and poor body positioning.


The vaporization of liquid into the atmosphere. A carrier typically evaporates from a coating mixture upon application to a surface.

exposure limits

The maximum amount or concentration of a hazard that can be present or that a worker may experience without causing a health hazard. Exposure limits are tested using sophisticated collection and measuring equipment.


Any limbs of a human body. Extremities are often affected by vibration.

eye contact

Absorption by or direct physical touching of the eyes. Eye contact with liquid and gaseous forms of chemicals can damage a person's vision.

general duty clause

A statement contained within OSHA's standards that requires employers to furnish employment and places of employment which are free from recognized hazards to the health and safety of their employees. The general duty clause covers situations for which there is no specific standard.


Protective hand covers that reduce the risk of injury and exposure to bloodborne pathogens. Latex gloves protect broken, burned, and abraded skin from bacteria.

hazard communication

The means through which employers inform their employees about hazards in the workplace. Means should include training sessions and the usage of SDS.

hearing protection

A type of personal protective equipment specifically designed to prevent hearing damage. Earplugs are the most common form of hearing protection.


A protective head covering that shields an employee's head from falling debris and other types of hazards. A helmet may be required in environments where work is being done overhead.


Human Immunodeficiency Virus. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.


Sickness or impairment that often affects a whole body or whole system, such as the lungs. Illnesses have many causes, including chemical exposure.


To take into the body by means of swallowing or absorption. Chemical and biological hazards can be ingested when they settle on food, drinks, skin surfaces, or clothing.


Breathing in an airborne substance. Inhalation is one of the most common forms of exposure.


Localized damage or harm. Injuries can be caused by events, such as accidents or physical trauma from something like repetitive motion.


The process by which two or more substances produce a new substance. When chemicals or medicines interact, they may become hazardous.


The reaction created when two or more substances are combined. Some interactions can cause substances to become hazardous.


A protective, full-body covering to shield an employee from hazardous materials. A jumpsuit can be useful when welding in extreme situations.


The time that elapses between the first exposure to the hazard and the moment when the injury or illness appears. Latency indicates hazardous materials after a length of time.


The connective tissues between bones, cartilage, or joints. Ligaments can be damaged by a person who does not practice proper body alignment.

light waves

The pulsation in space that transmits light energy. Light waves are a type of radiation.

metalworking fluids

Fluids used to decrease friction and reduce the temperature of the metalworking process. Metalworking fluids are abbreviated as MWFs.


A type of electromagnetic wave with a shorter than standard wavelength. A microwave can cause systemic illness.


Any type of the various fungi that cause the disintegration of organic matter. Molds can threaten the health of a person.


The smallest unit into which a material can be divided without changing its properties. A molecule consists of a group of atoms held together by strong primary bonds.

musculoskeletal system

Muscles, joints, bones, and related structures of the body. The musculoskeletal system may be damaged by physical and ergonomic hazards.

natural elements

Pure substances, such as gold, oxygen, or mercury, that cannot be further broken down. The use, handling, and removal of toxic natural elements is regulated by OSHA.


A feeling of sickness related to the stomach or the urge to vomit. Nausea may result from breathing hazardous fumes.


National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. A federal research agency tasked with researching and developing workplace health and safety recommendations. NIOSH has researched workplace hazards to determine exposure limits.


Any unwanted sound. Noise at high decibels is a hearing hazard.


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration. A government agency that enforces workplace health and safety regulations. OSHA sets the rules and requirements for hazard communication in the workplace.


An extremely small piece or part. Particles are smaller than whiskers or fibers.

personal protective equipment

PPE. Safety devices that an employees wears or uses to prevent injury. PPE includes many different types of devices.

physical hazards

Conditions or factors within the environment that may harm the body. Vibration and noise are examples of potentially harmful physical hazards.

poor positioning

Awkward location of the body or body parts that leads to injury. Poor positioning may damage the musculoskeletal system.


Small openings on the surface of a human's skin. Pores allow the skin to absorb nutrients as well as harmful substances.


The act of placing a machine tool or a workpiece in a certain location. Poor positioning may create ergonomic hazards.


Energy emitted in the form of particles or waves. Sources of radiation include sound, light, and electromagnetic waves.

rate of exposure

The amount and length of time of exposure to a hazardous condition or substance. The rate of exposure is the combination of dosage and duration.


The result of two or more substances coming together. Reactions might include a gas created by mixing two liquid chemicals or a breathing problem caused by inhaled fibers that become trapped in the lungs.


A breathing device worn to prevent inhalation of hazardous substances. Respirators may purify air from the environment or supply air to the wearer.

respiratory disease

Any of various diseases that affect the human respiratory system including chronic bronchitis and lung cancer. Long-term inhalation of MWFs has shown to cause respiratory disease.

safety data sheet

SDS. Mandatory information that must accompany hazardous workplace chemicals. A safety data sheet includes details such as risks, precautions, and first aid procedures associated with the chemical.

safety glasses

Protective eyewear that shields the eyes from debris. Safety glasses are usually made of thick plastic.


More susceptible to a hazard due to an underlying condition. Sensitivity increases the harmfulness of a hazard.

skin contact

Touching a substance without barrier protection. Chemicals that contact the skin can be absorbed through the pores.

sound waves

The disturbance of matter by the movement of energy. Sound waves can damage hearing.


A coating application method that involves separating a liquid into fine particles to form a mist that is directed at the surface. Spraying is usually done using a spray gun.

sulfur dioxide

A poisonous gas or liquid that is colorless but has a strong odor. Sulfur dioxide is used in many industrial processes.


Affecting a specific area or set of organs within the body. Though systemic illnesses harm only one part of the body, such as the skin or blood vessels, they can affect the entire body.


Poisonous or harmful. Many substances are harmful when exposure occurs and then toxic when exposure is prolonged.


Undulations or vibrations of a form of energy. Waves include microwaves and radio waves.


An electromagnetic wave used in radiographic testing of composites. X-rays are used to view the insides of solid objects.

repetitive motion

Persistent and continual movement that can cause localized musculoskeletal injury or illness. Assembly line workers often perform tasks that require repetitive motion.

repetitive motion

Persistent and continual movement that can cause localized musculoskeletal injury. Assembly line workers often perform tasks that require repetitive motion.


Rapid and repetitive back and forth movement. Vibration can be a physical hazard.


The fast, back-and-forth movement of an object. Vibration is a physical hazard.