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Physical and Biological Hazards of the Workplace, 3rd Edition by Peter H. Wald, Gregg M. Stave

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Chapter 1INTRODUCTION to PHYSICAL HAZARDS

Peter H. Wald

Physical hazards are hazards that result from energy and matter and the interrelationships between the two. Conceptually, physical hazards in the workplace can be subdivided into worker–material interfaces, the physical work environment, and energy and electromagnetic radiation. The consequences of exposure to these hazards can be modified by worker protection and a variety of human factors. This chapter will review the general principles of basic physics and worker protection.

Physics is the science of energy and matter and of the interrelationships between the two, grouped in traditional fields such as acoustics, optics, mechanics, thermodynamics, and electromagnetism. Quantum physics deals with very small energy forces; relativity deals with objects traveling at very high speeds (which causes time effects). Thus, physical hazards can be thought of as primarily hazards of energy, temperature, pressure, or time. This broad definition allows for the investigation of many hazards that are otherwise hard to classify but nevertheless represent important issues in the workplace. An understanding of these physical hazards requires familiarity with the two basic concepts of physics: classical mechanics, with its derivatives of thermodynamics and fluid dynamics, and electromagnetic radiation. For measurements, we have used Standard International (SI) units throughout this book, but we have included conversions to other units ...

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