The cornerstone of health and safety is risk assessment.
Risk assessment is a term used to describe the overall process or method whereby you will:
- – Identify hazards and risk factors that have the potential to cause harm (hazard identification)
- – Analyze and evaluate the risk associated with that hazard (risk analysis, and risk evaluation)
- – Determine appropriate ways to eliminate the hazard, or control the risk when the hazard cannot be eliminated (risk control)
Hazard identification is the process of finding, listing, and characterizing those hazards.
Risk evaluation is the process of comparing an estimated risk against given risk criteria to determine the significance of the risk.
It is the employers responsibility to then fix the hazards that have been identified.
Corporate OHS HSE Consultants will work with you to identify the risk inherent in your operations and conduct workplace hazard identification inspections.
They will collect and review information about the hazards present or likely to be present in the workplace and determine the severity and likelihood of incidents that could result for each hazard identified.
This information will then be used to prioritize corrective actions and decide which risk controls measures should be introduced.
If your operations are high risk activities, our HSE Consultants can work with you to review and evaluate your existing HSE management procedures and documents, method statements, task risk assessments etc. Finding any weaknesses present in your current approach and working with you to identify them.
The best way to fix a hazard is to get rid of it altogether. This is not always possible, but the employer should make hazards less dangerous by utilizing
Control Measures, some are listed below, in order from most effective to least effective:
- – Elimination – Sometimes hazards – equipment, substances or work practices – can be avoided entirely e.g. Clean high windows from the ground with an extendable pole cleaner, rather than by climbing a ladder and risking a fall
- – Substitution – Sometimes a less hazardous thing, substance or work practice can be used instead e.g. Use a non-toxic glue instead of a toxic glue
- – Isolation – Separate the hazard from people, by marking the hazardous area, fitting screens or putting up safety barriers e.g. Welding screens can be used to isolate welding operations from other workers. Barriers and/or boundary lines can be used to separate areas where forklifts operate near pedestrians in the workplace
- – Safeguards – Safeguards can be added by modifying tools or equipment, or fitting guards to machinery. These must never be removed or disabled by workers using the equipment
- – Instructing workers in the safest way to do something – This means developing and enforcing safe work procedures. Students on work experience must be given information and instruction and must follow agreed procedures to ensure their safety
- – Using personal protective equipment and clothing (PPE) – If risks remain after the options have been tried, it may be necessary to use equipment such as safety glasses, gloves, helmets and ear muffs. PPE can protect you from hazards associated with jobs such as handling chemicals or working in a noisy environment
Sometimes, it will require more than one of the risk control measures above to effectively reduce exposure to hazards.