A hazard is an activity, situation or substance that could cause harm. Risk is the chance that a hazard will cause harm. Hazard assessment is the process of identifying workplace hazards (both existing and potential), assessing the risk, implementing controls and reviewing to ensure hazards are eliminated or the risk minimized.
Hazard assessment is a proactive activity to improve health and safety. By identifying hazards and implementing controls, the workplace can prevent injuries and illnesses and the associated costs (both human and financial). Hazard assessment is an important foundation for other elements of a health and safety system, such as inspections, training, practices and procedures.
There are many methods to identify hazards. An important method is a job hazard analysis (JHA). JHA is the process of systematically evaluating a job, task, process or procedure to identify hazards and their associated risks, and then eliminating or reducing the risks to be as low as reasonably possible in order to protect workers from injury. Job hazard analysis is sometimes called job safety analysis or job task analysis. JHAs can be done through discussion and observation (example: using photos and videos).
Other methods to identify hazards include formal and informal hazard and risk assessment processes, inspections, field level risk assessments, hazard and risk assessments related to emergency procedures, procurement hazard and risk assessments.
It is very important to involve workers, especially those with experience, when conducting hazard assessments.
An employer should:
· Define hazard reporting processes
· Conduct hazard assessments
· Assess the risk of the identified hazards using a risk assessment methodology
· Implement controls to address identified hazards, focusing on hazards with the greatest risk first, considering:
· hierarchy of controls:
· elimination/substitution, engineering, administrative (including safe work practices/procedures and training), personal protective equipment (PPE)
· at the source, along the path, at the worker level
· regulatory and other established standards
· Follow up on hazard controls to ensure they:
· have been implemented as intended
· are effective; and
· have not created new hazards
· Maintain records of completed hazard assessments
Steps to perform a job hazard analysis:
1. Inventory occupations
2. Inventory tasks for each of the occupations
3. Prioritize and select tasks, considering:
· Newly established tasks
· Modified tasks
· Infrequently performed tasks
4. Break task into basic steps
5. Identify all hazards present within each step
6. Assess risk
7. Identify controls
8. Implement controls
9. Reassess risk
10. Communicate and provide training
11. Review JHA’s:
· when changes are made to the operational processes, such as new equipment or different materials
· following an incident
· at least every 3 years
And Yes a SOP/SWP is critical for staff to develop and understand !
A safe work practice is a set of guidelines to follow to carry out tasks safely. Safe work practices are general, as the task does not need to be performed exactly the same way every time.
A safe work procedure is a step-by-step guide for safely performing a task from beginning to end. Safe work procedures are sometimes called standard operating procedures, safe job procedures, safe work instructions, etc.
A safe work practice may be used to support a safe work procedure.
Safe work practices and procedures (SWPs) are one of the hazard controls used in a workplace to prevent injuries and illnesses. SWPs are often developed as part of a job hazard analysis or following an incident investigation. Documented SWPs provide a standard that can be used to train workers and ensure consistency.
An employer should:
· Consider risk when determining when to develop and review SWPs
· Involve workers who perform the job when developing and reviewing SWPs
· Consult the Occupational Health Committee, especially when required under legislation, when developing and reviewing SWPs
· Develop written SWPs to address identified hazards and potential emergencies
· Train workers in the relevant SWPs and have them readily available to workers
· Ensure everyone follows SWPs
· Review SWPs:
· when changes are made that would affect an SWP
· when an SWP is found to be inadequate
· at reasonable intervals (at least every 3 years)
Tips for documenting SWPs:
· Use short clear sentences
· Use active words (example: lift, remove, open)
· Use consistent, easy-to-use language and format
· Ensure SWPs meet or exceed all applicable legislation and manufacturers’ standards
· Include the hazards and risk
· Include references to any applicable documents, such as existing policies, procedures, practices, legislation, standards or forms
· Include tools and equipment required for the task
· Include the safety controls required to eliminate or minimize risk, such as:
· engineering controls
· personal protective equipment (PPE)
· Consider using photographs, diagrams and videos
· Have someone not involved in developing the SWP review it, preferably as a practical test run, before finalizing to make sure it is accurate, clear and understandable
· Include the date the SWP was approved and reviewed/revised
· For a safe work procedure, ensure the steps are in the correct order and numbered