5 factors that cause health and safety hazards

5 Factors That Cause Health and Safety Hazards Average Read Time - 10 min

Health and safety hazards can appear due to factors such as people, equipment, material, environment, and process. What’s more, accidents and incidents are often not a result of a single event. Multiple factors contribute to such unfortunate events. Therefore, it is very important for employers to understand those factors for building a strong health and safety (H&S) program. Each of the five factors has that cause H&S hazards at a workplace have unique characteristics.

In fact, each of the five factors relates to its environment and other variables within that environment is a unique manner. At the same time, they have a unique interrelation as well with other factors. Hence, a detailed understanding of these factors becomes absolutely imperative for businesses.
Such analysis can help a great deal in developing a comprehensive hazard assessment, which will form the foundation of a strong health and safety program.

In this article, we will be covering the following two points:
• 5 factors that cause health and safety hazards and actions to mitigate them.
• How can certified JHSC members support employers with their H&S program?

Following are the 5 factors that cause health and safety hazards:



The first factor that can cause a H&S hazard is people. People’s actions, whether they display them or not, have a significant impact on workplace health and safety. Therefore, actions become one of the major factors that cause health and safety hazards.
People play a major role in connecting with the other four factors in their own unique way. Hence, a Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) becomes crucial. It helps understand the tasks based on the process flow.
Part of an organization with 20 or more employees
If your organization has 20+ employees in Ontario, JHSC training for 1 worker and 1 manager rep is mandatory.

Actions to Mitigate:
• Develop targeted H&S training programs emphasizing the role of human behavior in safety.
• Promote safety awareness through continuous education and empowerment.


Material Safety and Handling

Improper material handling can lead to a range of workplace hazards, from physical injuries to employees, such as strains or fractures, to environmental harm if hazardous materials are involved. Effective material handling protocols are critical for preventing accidents, maintaining a safe work environment, and ensuring smooth operational processes. 

Actions to Mitigate:
• Implement stringent controls for hazardous material storage and use.
• Engage employees in routine safety audits and hazard communication protocols.



Equipment includes tools and machines that people work with. Further, equipment includes those to which people are near. Equipment can include fixed machines, vehicles, material handling devices, hand tools, protective equipment, and personal gear.
Moreover, some equipment can potentially emit harmful chemicals. Furthermore, certain equipment can produce physical agents such as heat, noise, vibration, or radiation during operation.

Actions to Mitigate:
• Enforce a preventative maintenance schedule for all machinery and equipment.
• Certify workers on equipment use to ensure competent operation. View our Health and Safety Course catalog!



Environment refers to all parts of a workplace. Moreover, there are six aspects of a workplace that can be a potential hazard. The condition of all surfaces on which people walk or where company places its things is important.
Further, unsafe or poor conditions such as overcrowding and poor ventilation become important. Hazards can be caused by physical agents such as light, temperature, and noise are vital to analyze. It is important to consider housekeeping hazards such as spilled cleaning fluids, since they can be inhaled. Maintenance hazards such as blocked stairs, debris on stairs, and blocked floors and exits are critical for hazard analysis.

Actions to Mitigate:
• Monitor and optimize workplace environmental conditions, including air quality and ergonomics.
• Adopt cleanliness and organization as part of the company’s safety standards.



Process considers how things are done at the workplace as a whole. Therefore, it connects the previous contributors – people, equipment, material, environment. Moreover, process covers the hazards that may be prevalent a process between these factors occurs.
All of these hazards and their potential impacts on your workplace are covered in our Joint Health & Safety Committee (JHSC) training, which is a ministry approved certification program.
How can certified JHSC members support employers with their H&S program?

In Ontario, it is mandated by the Occupational Health & Safety Act for workplaces with 20 or more workers to have a JHSC of which at least two committee members must have a JHSC certification.
Joint Health & Safety Committee (JHSC) certification is the best way for employers to not only build a strong H&S program, but to also COVID-proof the business. Therefore, get your employees to become certified JHSC members.
JHSC members can assist you in effective identification of hazards at your workplace. Moreover, they take part in the workplace inspections as well. This helps them understand and identify hazards much better.

More importantly, they can make valuable recommendations for improvement to the employer. In fact, your JHSC can play a crucial role in helping you figure out what works best for you. This could involve:
• Identifying hazardous practices
• Looking for improper sanitization practices
• Monitoring the personal protective equipment infrastructure

Your JHSC can play a crucial role in fostering a safety culture of prevention vs protection at your workplace.

Click Here to know how to become a certified JHSC member.

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