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Risk factors in the working environment

Last updated: 30.09.2021
  • Risk factors in the working environment are divided into five groups – physical, physiological, biological, chemical and psychosocial.
  • Working environment hazards can cause physical harm, including injuries and illness.
  • There may be different risk factors, but there is certainly a physical, psychosocial and physiological risk factor in any work.

There are five groups of risk factors in the working environment.

Physical hazards include:

Physiological hazards include:

  • the difficulty of manual work, including manual handling of loads,
  • repetition of the same type of movement, and
  • forced postures and movements at work that cause fatigue; and
  • other similar factors which may cause damage to health over time.

To avoid physical overload of the employee, the employer must:

  • adapt the work to the employee's ability;
  • allow the employee to take breaks included in working time during the working day or shift.

When designing the workplace and organising the work, the physical, mental, gender and age characteristics of the employee and the change of their capacity for work during the working day or shift must be taken into account.

Psychosocial hazards include:

  • work at risk of accident or violence;
  • unequal treatment;
  • bullying and harassment at work;
  • work that does not match the employee's abilities;
  • long-term work alone;
  • monotonous work;
  • other management, work organisation and working environment factors that may affect the employee's mental or physical health, including stress at work.

The employer must take measures to prevent damage to health due to a psychosocial risk factor, including:

  • adapt the organisation of work and the workplace to suit the employee;
  • optimise the workload of the employee;
  • allow the employee to take breaks included in working time during the working day or shift;
  • improve the company's psychosocial working environment.

Chemical hazards are hazardous chemicals and materials containing them that are handled by the establishment. If the packaging of a chemical has one of the signs below, it is a hazardous chemical.

Biological hazards include:

  • micro-organisms (bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc.), including genetically modified micro-organisms;
  • cell cultures;
  • human endoparasites;
  • other biologically active substances that may cause an infectious disease, allergy or poisoning.

In order to protect against biological hazards in the workplace, the employer must take measures, taking into account the infectivity of the risk factor.