Identifying and Dealing with Workplace Hazard and Risks and Safe Work Procedures

What is a hazard?

It could be described as ‘‘any object or thing that has the potential to cause harm or damage as result of its closing and collision potential’’.

Hazards are found in the following form or format:

  • Solids,
  • Liquids and
  • Gasses.

What is a risk?

Means the probability that injury or damage will occur. Identifying and dealing with hazards and risks. A risk assessment is an important step in protecting and preventing damage or loss to persons, property and the environment. Risk assessment is essential to any organization or business and is an extremely powerful tool for improving safety standards and operations. It is prescribed by the OHS Act and will ensure legal compliance. Take note that legislation does not expect the employer to eliminate all risk, but they are required to protect people as far as ‘reasonably practicable’. It helps you focus on significant risks.

Hazards are typically categorized into different groups:

Safety:

  • Moving machinery
  • Working at heights
  • Slippery surfaces
  • Electricity
  • Mobile equipment, etc.

Ergonomic:

• Material handling
• Physical work environment
• Work organization, etc.

Chemical agents:

• Chemicals (cleaning agents or other hazardous chemicals)
• Corrosives
• Pesticides
• Biological agents:

Micro-organism, cell culture or human endoparasite, including any which have been genetically modified, which may cause an infection, allergy or toxicity, or otherwise create a hazard to human health.

Physical agents:

• Noise
• Lighting
• Radiation, etc.

Psychosocial:

• Stress
• Violence, etc.

The principle of the hierarchy of control measures

Where a risk or a hazard exists in the workplace, the employer must first take steps to make the work safe by eliminating all hazards and potential risks.

Where it is not possible to eliminate a hazard the employer must undertake to reduce the risk of exposure to such hazard by introducing control measures at the source of the hazard and along the path of exposure to the hazard.

In addition to these control measures, and where it is not practicable to reduce the risk through these control measures, the employer will provide personal protective equipment, clothing and facilities as a last resort of control for the individual worker who is at risk of exposure to the hazard.

Safe work procedures/ safe operating procedures for machinery

Safe work procedures/ safe operating procedures for machinery could be described as a set of written instructions that identifies the health and safety issues that may arise from the jobs and tasks that make up a system of work.

Safe work procedures are a means of briefly documenting the risks associated with a work task and incorporating the appropriate risk control measures into a sequence of steps for doing the task safely.

Most effective when developed in consultation with your workers, safe work procedures provide a useful tool for training and supervising your workers, and responding to incident reports and changes in the workplace.

Since machine-related accidents are usually very serious, any written rules or supervisor’s directions which are not explicitly followed will result in strong disciplinary actions.