Health & Safety in the workplace is all about trying to prevent workers from getting injured due to a risk in the workplace. At it’s most basic, it is based around:
- Hazard identification
- Risk assessment of hazards
- Controlling hazards to prevent injury
What are hazards?
A hazard is something that can cause of have the ability to cause injury or harm to a person, damage to property or equipment; or a combination of both.
In order to control hazards, we need to identify what they are. How do we do this?
- refer to WorkSafeBC regulations
- refer to injury statistics, internal and other (e.g. WorkSafeBC provide annual injury statistics)
- speak with workers and supervisors
- conduct risk assessments
What are risk assessments?
A risk assessment is aimed at determining the probability of a hazard causing injury or harm, and the severity of the injury or harm caused. It is an important component to help prioritize controls for specific hazards as well as prioritizing controls among hazards.
Risk assessments will take into consideration things such as likelihood of injury, severity of injury, how many people could be impacted, impacts to the organization (e.g. property damage).
For every risk factor identified in a risk assessment, appropriate hazard controls must be considered. When reviewing controls, the following hierachy must be considered, from most effective to least effective, taking into account financial restrictions and other factors:
- eliminate the hazard altogether (most effective control measure) if the hazard is not required or needed
- substitute for a less hazardous product or process
- engineering control (e.g. placing a guard on a piece of equipment, isolating the hazard)
- administrative controls (e.g. training, education, work schedules, reduce number of people allowed to work with the hazard)
- personal protective equipment (PPE) is least effective as the hazard still exists, it places the barrier around the worker, requires training and education in the correct use and an effective maintenance program