How can an MSc in Safety, Security and Emergency Management prepare graduates to manage environmental risks in the workplace? (2023)

How can an MSc in Safety, Security and Emergency Management prepare graduates to manage environmental risks in the workplace? (1)No matter how big or small, every employer must create a safe work environment. This commitment is not only a moral imperative and a legal obligation, it also makes financial sense.

Thanks to the efforts of government agencies like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the United States has made significant strides in workplace safety over the past several decades. Since 1970, the daily number of workplace deaths in the country has fallen from 38 to 14, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. , according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The nature of certain industries makes them particularly vulnerable to incidents. For example, the construction industry is responsible for 1 in 5 deaths of workers in the private sector. Other vulnerable industries include transportation, manufacturing, healthcare, and warehousing.

Whether safety incidents are the result of falls or overexertion, they cost the industry more than $1 billion a week, according to a recent study by Liberty Mutual. This is in addition to any legal fees. However, organizations can protect employees from environmental hazards in the workplace by implementing strategic precautions that address airflow, slips and trips, ergonomic hazards, natural disasters, and electrical safety.

What is environmental health?

Environmental health refers to the limitation of health hazards in the workplace. This includes scanning an environment to identify potentially hazardous substances and implementing measures to protect workers.

types of dangers

In a work environment, employees can be exposed to a variety of health risks, including those described in the following sections.


Biological hazards emanate from organisms such as humans, animals and plants and threaten human health. Examples of biohazards are mold, sewage, blood and bodily fluids. These hazards can cause illness and allergic reactions and limit the ability of employees to work.

chemical hazards

Chemicals can be toxic, corrosive, flammable and combustible. As such, they can pose a health risk to workers and become dangerous if inhaled, ingested or absorbed through the skin by workers. Chemical hazards can cause acute harm such as burns, irritation and vomiting or chronic health problems such as asthma, liver damage and cancer.

physical dangers

Physical hazards include activities or substances that occur naturally in a work environment and pose health risks. Extreme temperatures, poor air quality, excessive noise and radiation in the workplace can harm workers and cause respiratory problems, hearing loss, cancer and other problems.

The dual purpose of environmental health

Environmental Health focuses on preventing illness and injury in the workplace, but also strives to promote the health and well-being of workers. Organizations can create opportunities for workers to practice healthy behaviors. For example, by providing a pleasant break room or cafeteria where nutritious food is served, a company can encourage social interactions and healthy eating habits among its employees.

Some companies have gyms to help employees stay physically active. Others have bulletin boards that post information about wellness programs and other health promotion information. These efforts can not only boost morale, but also reduce health issues that can impact productivity.

The role of security managers

Those tasked with reducing the impact of environmental hazards in the workplace are concerned with:


To locate workplace hazards and assess their risks, safety professionals examine materials in a work environment, such as cleaning supplies and equipment, as well as the safety of the work environment itself. They consider issues such as:

  • Are there any chemicals that require special handling?
  • Is the workplace adequately ventilated?
  • Can workers exit safely and quickly?


After measuring and sampling materials in a work environment, or examining characteristics of a work environment, safety professionals must interpret the data collected. This allows them to measure risks and create reports or summaries of their findings. His analysis implies using scientific evidence to determine how the environment can affect workers' health.

make recommendations

After the analysis, security experts develop protective measures that prevent health risks. This includes establishing policies, procedures and guidelines to control hazards. This includes creating training materials and communicating with workers about how to protect themselves.

The importance of air circulation

Air quality affects the comfort and health of employees. Several factors can affect air quality, including humidity, lack of outside air, poorly controlled temperatures, and renovation projects. In addition, air pollutants, including fumes from cleaning agents, pesticides or construction dust, affect air quality.

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Poor indoor air quality has been linked to:

  • Headache
  • Irritation of eyes, skin and nose.
  • bad concentration

Air circulation plays a key role in air quality. Without proper circulation, irritants remain in the air. However, proper air circulation can help remove pollutants that cause health problems.

Another potential hazard of poor air circulation in the workplace is the ease of disease transmission. Ventilation helps remove exhaled bacteria and viruses from the air and reduces the risk of long-distance transmission of airborne diseases. This has become crucial with the emergence of epidemics such as SARS and MERS and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some jobs emit potentially harmful substances into the air, including noxious gases, unhealthy fumes, smoke, and other irritants that can pose serious health risks. For example, nail technicians can breathe chemicals from the products they use, construction workers are often exposed to dust and fumes, and healthcare workers can be exposed to biological hazards.

When inhaling or coming into contact with hazardous substances in the air, workers can develop:

  • Bronchitis
  • lung cancer
  • Asma

They can also suffer damage to their nervous and reproductive systems.

Tips to improve air quality

OSHA requires ventilation in buildings to ensure workers have clean air to breathe. OSHA standards limit the amount of pollutants allowed in the air and require adequate ventilation to ensure toxins remain at safe levels.

To meet and exceed OSHA standards, employers and work organizations can do the following:

Solve carbon monoxide problems

Work areas must not have an average carbon monoxide level in excess of 50 parts per million over a period of eight hours. Employers must regularly test for carbon monoxide levels and provide adequate ventilation to meet this standard.

Ensuring the safety of the ventilation system

Uncovered ventilation systems pose health risks. Make sure the inlets and belt drives of these systems, especially portable blowers, remain covered to prevent accidents. Also, make sure your ventilation systems are working properly: regularly check your exhaust fans, ductwork, and pressure gauges. Also check the fan housing, pulleys, and air cleaner components.

Solvent Vapor Monitoring

Some solvents have flammable vapors that can become explosive at high concentrations. To reduce these risks, employers must maintain these vapors at levels well below their explosive concentration limits. Safety management specialists need to know the explosive limits of the solvents they use and ensure their vapor levels meet OSHA standards. Using exhaust systems that improve ventilation can help.

A look at slip and trip hazards in the workplace

Data from the National Safety Council (NSC) shows that slips and trips account for more than 1 in 4 of all workplace injuries and cause 792 workplace fatalities according to current BLS data

Causes of slips, trips and falls

A variety of easy-to-fix issues can lead to slips, trips, and falls. Slip and trip hazards include:

  • Damaged or slippery floors
  • exposed wires
  • messy sidewalks
  • Handrails are missing

For example, a staff toilet might have a leaking sink. When the company learns of the problem, a janitor may scrub the area regularly, but once the cleaning fails, puddles form and an employee slips and breaks an ankle. In this case, not only was the company unable to repair the leak, they also failed to post proper signage and perform routine clean-up activities.

While the trip hazards mentioned above can result in fatalities, fatal falls are also the result of improper placement or use of ladders and scaffolding, unprotected sides or exposed holes, and unsafe work surfaces.

In addition to these more obvious slip and trip hazards, other less obvious factors can contribute to falls. For example, employees can also slip or trip and injure themselves due to impaired visibility and poor lighting.

Tips to avoid slips, trips and falls

The #1 violation of OSHA standards involves fall protection. However, organizations can avoid these incidents by considering the following:

slip prevention

Slips usually result from a lack of traction on the ground caused by spilled substances such as soaps, oils or solvents. Prevention includes:

  • Quick clean up after spills
  • Use of mats and other non-slip materials
  • adequate drainage
  • correct signage
  • railing
  • High-traction treads on stairs

travel prevention

Any number of objects can lead to a journey. To avoid travel, employers can:

  • Make sure mats and rugs are anchored
  • install adequate lighting
  • Keep corridors and paths clear
  • keep ground

fall prevention

Three steps can help prevent falls:

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  • Organizations should assess all potential fall hazards on a project, particularly those involving work at height, and then carefully plan the required tasks and safety equipment.
  • With the right gear. Organizations must provide the right types of safety equipment, ladders, and scaffolding and inspect them regularly.
  • training of workers. Organizations must train workers to use equipment safely and recognize occupational hazards.

Ergonomic risks: main symptoms and risks

Poor ergonomics in the workplace can lead to employee health problems such as: B. cumulative trauma disorders, repetitive strain injuries and musculoskeletal disorders. Ergonomic hazards often arise from the way the workplace is designed.

Potential ergonomic hazards include the following:

  • Ill-fitting chairs or workstations
  • repetitive movements
  • regular survey
  • wrong posture
  • Vibration

Whether employees sit at desks that are too short for them, strain their thumbs on laptops with centrally located trackpads, or strain their eyes to stare at screens all day, poor ergonomics can lead to debilitating symptoms. sore joints and muscles; tingling in hands, fingers and extremities; and neck and back pain and stiffness can be the result of ergonomic hazards.

Tips for dealing with ergonomic hazards

Organizations can draw on a range of solutions to help address common high-risk behaviors and ergonomic issues.

Assess ergonomic risks

An important first step in solving this problem is to find out where it exists. Ask questions like:

  • Do jobs take employee size into account?
  • Do workspaces encourage proper posture?
  • What repetitive movements do workers perform?

make adjustments

After identifying ergonomic hazards, employers can address them accordingly. This may involve redesigning workplaces or changing employee routines. When employers cannot eliminate ergonomic hazards, they can implement controls that reduce their negative impact. For example, you can split tasks to reduce effort, increase rest time, or rotate employees performing repetitive tasks.

Safety from natural disasters and the role of emergency management

Organizations must prepare for natural disasters and emergencies. How will employers protect their workers in the event of a tornado or earthquake? Safety and emergency managers play a key role in preparing a workplace for hurricanes, fires, floods, and other natural disasters.

Ways to ensure safety during emergencies and natural disasters

Organizations can take a number of steps to protect their employees during emergencies and natural disasters. This includes:

Development of contingency plans

OSHA requires companies to document their emergency plans according to certain standards. In addition, employees must undergo hands-on training to become familiar with emergency procedures and obtain copies of emergency action plans.

Preparation of emergency kits

Survival kits include basic items like water (one gallon per day for each employee), non-perishable food, first-aid kits, flashlights, and battery-powered radios. Other items that should be kept in storm-proof rooms can include blankets, maps, and cell phones.

Creation of evacuation plans

Employees need to know the location of the nearest exit and alternatives. In addition, evacuation plans should indicate the best routes to exit a building and meeting points after exiting a building. Organizations must post evacuation plans in visible areas in all work areas.


Disaster and disaster recovery requires careful management. Safety and emergency managers help a workplace recover from a disaster in many ways.

First, they conduct a damage assessment, examine property to determine what needs repair or replacement, and identify areas of a building that pose security threats. After assessing the damage, emergency managers work to help an organization return to normal operations. They are also considering which aspects of their contingency plans need to be revised.

The impact of COVID-19 in the workplace

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed another threat to safe work environments: communicable diseases. As a result, employers are considering various ways to protect their employees from the virus and the like.

COVID-19 poses a greater risk for people who are older and have certain pre-existing conditions. As such, employers are looking at ways to place workers in high-risk categories and, where possible, establish remote work arrangements for all workers.

When remote work is not an option, employers assess exposure sources and implement controls that reduce exposure. In addition, they encourage or encourage behaviors that emphasize infection prevention, such as B. social distancing and frequent hand washing.

Electrical safety at work

In 2018, 160 workers died from electrocution at work, an 18% increase from the previous year. That same year, 1,560 workers suffered electrical injuries. While electrical hazards pose a hazard to workers in all industries, those most likely to suffer fatalities or electrical accidents work in construction, which accounts for 52% of electrical deaths. These figures underscore the importance of high standards of electrical safety in the workplace.

Risk of electric shock

Electrical hazards can cause burns, electric shock, fire, explosion and death. Some common electrical hazards are:

high voltage grid

Overhead power lines carry deadly electrical voltages. Failure to keep a safe distance from them may result in electric shock or severe burns.

Damaged equipment and tools

Tools or equipment with damaged wires, cables, or other defects may pose a hazard to users. Also, untrained workers are not allowed to use tools.

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improper wiring

Different electrical currents require specific types of wiring. Incorrect wiring can cause overheating and fire. They can also occur from using the wrong extension cords, overloading outlets, and using the wrong circuit breakers.

exposed electrical parts

Because potentially hazardous electrical energy builds up through electrical components, they must remain safely covered. Emergency lighting, power distribution units, and power cords with exposed electrical parts are electrical hazards.

wet conditions

Water increases the likelihood of electric shock. The use of electricity in humid environments, especially when the equipment's insulation is damaged, poses significant safety risks.

Strategies to improve electrical safety in the workplace

Safety and emergency management professionals can help minimize the risk of electrical incidents in a number of ways. Many electrical accidents are the result of failing to identify power sources and improper use of extension cords. However, by implementing the following strategies, organizations can protect their employees from electrical hazards.

Understand and follow OSHA regulations

OSHA outlines standards that promote electrical safety. Organizations must understand and follow policies related to:

  • Avoid using hot appliances to avoid electrical hazards.
  • Separating conductors or circuit parts from live parts to ensure electrically safe working conditions

Establish electrical safety programs

Electrical safety programs can increase awareness of electrical hazards and train the employees they need to stay safe. You can also develop safe working practices and identify electrical safety principles.

Recognizing and evaluating electrical hazards

By locating and assessing hazards, organizations can better manage electrical hazards and inform employees appropriately.

Create a safety culture

Organizations committed to addressing environmental hazards in the workplace can create and maintain safe environments for their employees. Safe work environments not only prevent injuries and illnesses, they also reduce costs, increase productivity and boost employee morale.

Further information on the subject of occupational safety can be found atMasters in Safety, Security and Emergency ManagementEastern Kentucky University program.

recommended reading

Preparing for an OSHA inspection

Stop exposure to secondhand smoke at work

Trends in emergency management in 2020


California Department of Industrial Relations, Ergonomic Hazards

Canadian Center for Occupational Safety and Health, Hazards

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Natural Disasters and Extreme Weather Issues, Electrical Safety: Tips to Avoid Electrical Injuries in the Workplace

EHS Daily Advisor, "OSHA's 'Fatal Four': Leading Causes of Death in the Workplace"

International Foundation for Electrical Safety, Workplace Injury and Fatalities Statistics

Houstoner Chronik, “Preparing for a Natural Disaster at Work”

(Video) Career Education: Emergency Management

Houstoner Chronik, “List of slip, trip and fall hazards”

Investopedia, “Litigation Risk”

National Center for Biotechnology Information, „Ventilation Control for Airborne Transmission of Human Exhaled Bioaerosols in Buildings“

Beagle, OSHA statutory requirements for building ventilation

The 2019 Workplace Safety Index by Liberty Mutual and Liberty Mutual shows that workplace accidents cost American businesses more than $1 billion each week

National Association for Environmental Health, Definitions of Environmental Health

National Security Council, Workplace Injuries

Occupational health and safety administration, frequently used statistics

Occupational Safety and Health Administration, COVID-19

Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidance on preparing workplaces for COVID-19

Occupational safety authority, indoor air quality

Public Health Scotland, Dangerous Substances

SafetyCulture, "Electrical Safety"

SafetyLine, series of hazards in the workplace: biological hazards

SafetyLine, Workplace Hazard Series: riscos ergonômicos

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US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Injuries, Diseases, and Deaths

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(Video) MSc Global Strategy in Environmental Health and Sustainability

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1. Disaster Security: Using Intelligence and Military Planning for Energy and Environmental Risks
2. Chemical Safety || Chemicals Hazards & Precautions || Safe Handling of Chemicals || HSE STUDY GUIDE
3. Project Management for Emergency Management
(NAPSG Foundation)
4. Risk Management issues within the Hospital Setting with David Milen, Ph.D.
(CSU Global)
5. Health Care Emergency Management Disaster Preparedness, Response, and Recovery
(Constellation, Together for the Common Good)
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(National Center for Campus Public Safety)


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