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Physical hazards

Hazard Knowledge

Physical hazards occur when objects such as equipment and tools, or areas of the working environment, come into contact or have an effect on a person, resulting in the potential to cause actual physical injury.

Examples of physical hazards include:

  • Uneven and slippery surfaces leading to slips, trips and falls
  • Poor lighting
  • Falls from height
  • Bodies of water
  • Extremes of temperature
  • Noise
  • Vibration
  • Manual handling/ergonomic injuries
  • Vehicle movement
  • Animals
  • Electrics
  • Grinding
  • Sharps

Some physical hazards can be associated with a variety of actions. For example, a manual handling hazard could be attributed to lifting, posture, awkward and/or repetitive movements, use of force or improper or unsuitable use of equipment. Or a heat induced hazard, as a further example, could be directly related to the weather, to workload/task, or both.

At operational incidents personnel could at times be exposed to higher levels of threat of injury from physical hazards than in normal situations (applicable to the circumstances). In every case a full assessment is vital to put additional control measures in place and avoid unacceptable exposure.

A hazard may outweigh or potentially outweigh the benefit of action. In such cases it may be appropriate to adopt a 'defensive mode' until further measures are implemented.

See also:

National Operational Guidance: Utilities and fuel

National Operational Guidance: Transport

National Operational Guidance: Incidents involving animals