Hazard identification techniques

07 November 2019

Every working environment has hazards to contend with, whether you’re a construction firm or in an office environment.

Regardless, a health & safety check across your workplace is essential. A hazard identification and risk assessment in the workplace can uncover issues that may lead to injury or illness.

And there are certain methods you can use to identify where issues may be across your business. Our guide explains what they are.

What is hazard identification in the workplace?

It’s an analytical process where you assess the risks around your working environment.

It identifies which situation, item, thing, or activity may cause harm to your employees or premises.

You can think of it as one of the first steps in risk assessments for your business.

The different types of hazard identification methods

You can consider the following tactics as proactive techniques to identify health & safety issues at work. They are:

  • Holding pre-employee start discussion on the work the individual will carry out.
  • Train and encourage your staff members to recognise and flag up any issues they see while at work.
  • Have regular safety inspections and audits to maintain high standards.
  • Perform analysis of job safety on a regular basis.
  • Monitor, measure, and test—with these principles you can ensure noise levels, electrical testing, and atmosphere measurements are consistent and accurate.
  • Analyse new or modified equipment to ensure it’s ready for safe use.
  • Hold a hazard survey.
  • Review all of your information regarding safety date sheets, operating manuals, and product data.
  • Research data available on hazards, such as in the media, industry alerts, government information etc.
  • Look at previous incidents as information gathering.

Below are some hazard identification examples to help you understand what you must look out for:

  • Frayed electrical cords.
  • Precariously stacked boxes.
  • Excessively noisy machinery.
  • Toxic chemicals that aren’t properly contained.
  • Faulty office equipment.

Of course, this will also depend on your working environment. So consider what your industry is in when you’re looking for hazards in and around your business.

Typically, the most common issues are physical, ergonomic (such as manual handling and body posture), chemical, and biological hazards.

Hazard identification procedure

There are various steps to take, but we can summarise the right approach the following steps.

You can use these as part of a hazard identification and risk assessment template:

  1. Preparation: Conduct surveys and risk assessments to understand your working environment and what may be an issue.
  2. Hazard identification: This will help you to identify hazards and other possible incident making issues.
  3. Perform your risk assessment: Check your working environment to list the issues you find.
  4. Establish control measures: These will help your business to stop, or control, hazards in your business.
  5. Keep records: Maintain details on any incidents of hazards to keep your organisation aware of what may occur.
  6. Implementation and review: Hold regular quarterly, or annual, checks to understand how your business is performing—and if any new hazards need a risk assessment.

To help you here, you could create a risk assessment matrix. This defines the level of risk at hand. To do this, it considers a category of probability against the category of severity.

Simply out, it increases the visibility of risks. In turn, a hazard identification and risk assessment matrix assists with management decisions.

Standard risk matrices exist, but it’s often good business practice to create one specific to your working environment.

But you should look to categorise the “harm severity” on the following scale:

  • Catastrophic: Multiple deaths.
  • Critical: One death or multiple severe injuries.
  • Marginal: One severe injury or multiple minor injuries.
  • Negligible: One minor injury.

There’s a scale in the probability of harm, which is:

You can align your probabilities alongside the harm severity, so you have a matrix of understandable issues and the potential outcome.

Need our help?

Get in touch with us if you need any assistance with your health & safety practices: 1890 252 923.

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