When you think of hazards, you usually think of dramatic scenarios such as exploding gas tanks and lighting bolts. However, people don’t really think about the hazards that have latent effects. That is why this blog will go over how to deal with workplace hazards that have latent effects.
What are Hazards with Latent Effects?
There are many hazards that don’t pop up in our heads whenever we hear the word “hazard”. Unlike the immediate effects of an electrical shock or getting caught on fire, the effects of latent hazards can take decades to appear. These latent effects are so slow to manifest that it can be nearly impossible to establish a link between the health complications and the causes of it. For example, with mutagens and teratogens, the latent effects don’t appear until the next generation!
● Mutagen: A mutagen is a substance or agent that affects a change in a human’s genetic system by altering its hereditary material. They cause a change in chromosomes or a biological change in genes, thus affecting future generations.
● Teratogens: Cause an interruption to the development of a fetus or embryo, leading to a birth defect or pregnancy termination. Classes of teratogens include chemicals, radiation, drugs, or maternal infections.
Why are Hazards with Latent Effects so Dangerous?
The longer the lag-time, the more difficult it is to conceptualize the cause and effect and identifying the causal link itself. That’s what makes it so dangerous. Since one doesn’t immediately notice it, one could continue getting exposed to it and not take care of the problem immediately since the effect doesn’t take place until later. Plus, as human beings, our brains are wired to minimize consequences that are far off in time. It is a behavior known as “Hyperbolic Discounting.” Under hyperbolic distancing, whenever there is a consequence, good or bad, that is far off in the future, we unconsciously reduce it’s value. It makes us perceive that simply because something happens later signifies that it is less significant.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Fatalities certainly catch attention, but the discussion of latent effects includes some relatively less severe examples. For example, there is one latent effect that is really common in certain industries, more so than toxic exposures, and that is noise-induced hearing loss. According to the CDC, 1-in-5 workers in manufacturing have material hearing impairment from occupational noise. The damage accumulates little by little over time. The increments are hard to notice, but once the damage is done, it is irreparable. Lantnet hazard likes these can be prevented with the proper use of hearing protection gear. Extreme Safety offers all types of safety products which can prevent these hazards from affecting you.
How to Approach Latent Effects Hazards
Most workers don’t perceive the seriousness of a hazard, which causes them to not guard against it properly. The best way to prevent latent hazards is by having the proper safety equipment and by educating people. One should learn to identify that latent hazards are just as dangerous as any other. The long delay of time plays a trick on our minds. We have to override this ingrained intuition with logic.
Latent hazards may not seem dramatic but could be really serious. We hope this blog helped you understand how to deal with workplace hazards that have latent effects. For all of your safety equipment, visit us online at http://www.extremesafety.com or call 310-856-0166 today!