Workplace hazards that aren’t identified can not be eliminated or controlled. For this reason, hazard identification is the cornerstone of any health and safety program.
What is a hazard?
According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), a hazard is a potential source of injury, illness or damage, to people, structures, equipment or the environment.
What is hazard identification?
Hazard identification is the process of identifying hazards in order to eliminate or mitigate the risk of injury and occupational disease. There are numerous techniques that can be used to identify hazards. Inspections, job safety analysis, analysis of previous accidents and brainstorming are widely used techniques.
When should hazard identification be done?
Hazard identification can be done:
- During design and implementation
- Designing a new process or procedure
- Purchasing and installing new machinery
- Before tasks are done
- Checking equipment or following processes
- Reviewing surroundings before each shift
- While tasks are being done
- Be aware of changes, abnormal conditions, or sudden emissions
- During inspections
- Formal, informal, supervisor, health and safety committee
- After incidents
- Near misses or minor events
- Serious injuries or damage
What are the challenges associated with the hazard identification process?
Complexity: there are many types of hazards and it is difficult to identify ones that affect worker health Identifying workers’ exposure to health hazards is typically more complex than identifying physical safety hazards. For example, gases and vapours may be invisible, often have no odour, and may not have an immediately noticeable harmful health effect.
Absence of specialized knowledge, process and appropriate tools. These factors negatively impact the quality and the value of the assessment. For instance, the inconvenience of carrying around a traditional clipboard, and writing utensils is often a challenge. Employees who find it a hassle may not have the forms handy, which results in fewer hazard assessments being completed.
Keeping track of the tasks/actions and deadlines that have been assigned to individuals after the hazard identification process. ( See Also Corrective And Preventive Action)
Risk assessment. Organizations and workers struggle to properly identify which hazards must be eliminated or controlled first. There are some misconceptions when determining which hazard is worse than another. One basic mistake it to focus only on the severity of the hazard without taking into consideration its occurrence. This is where risk assessment comes in. By considering both frequencies of occurrence and severity of the impact, the hazard can be prioritized and addressed accordingly.
Remove challenges by using HSE software to perform your hazard assessment and controls.
Imagine if your JSAs and other paper checklists/forms were available online and could be completed with a smartphone or tablet whenever and wherever the Internet is available. Using digital field level risk assessment forms, your workers can do just that. Plus, you can instantly get reporting details, trending data, and tracking on important safety issues.
Using HSE software for your hazard identification process will allow you to:
- Design and update your digital assessment form within the system
- Systemize the process and bring consistent data
- Track hazard identifications and recognize employees
- Analyze and control with corrective actions assignment and tracking capabilities
STELLAR HSE Management and Tracking
With our HSE software, hazard identification checklists are completely customizable to your company’s needs. You can also add custom form fields as your processes change. The following features will show you how you can make it easier for your workers to actively perform hazard identification and control tasks.
- Checkboxes. Build a detailed list of common hazards found at each work site, then have workers check off those present during the hazard identification process. Depending on the severity of each hazard, you can program email notifications to supervisors when certain checkboxes are selected. You can also prepopulate fields to appear automatically when certain items are checked, making each form dynamically tailored to the situation at hand.
- Drop down menus. Assess multiple tasks on the same form using customized dropdown lists. Workers select the task, and a customized digital hazard form will appear for each task. This will make it easier for the workers to fill out the form and will keep data consistent.
- Customize your required fields. Ensure your workers’ safety by specifying what fields are required. If not checked, the form cannot be submitted which prevents you from missing important information. You can even link hazard types with their associated corrective actions.
- Risk assessment. A risk matrix is embedded in the hazard identification digital process and provides calculations for rating your risk level. Workers select impact from Insignificant / Minor / Moderate / Major / Catastrophic and likelihood from rare to almost certain.
- Digital sign off. Use the digital sign off capability to ensure your workers are submitting their hazard assessments. Then program your workflow to assign electronic sign off to your supervisors upon completion.
- Dashboard. Use the dashboard to keep track of all your hazard assessments and filter reports by risk level and status of corrective actions (open versus closed).
ABCanada – Who we are and what we do
At Alliance Borealis Canada Corp., our roots are in workplace health and safety programs.
Since 1997, we have conquered major H&S projects all over the world and have used the knowledge we’ve gained to create our cloud-based, expertly designed software for reporting and tracking incidents and a variety of leading safety indicators. Our goal is to change the way you see your HSE partner by providing solutions that work at every level of your company and make it easier for you to improve safety performance. Ask us about our newest release, STELLAR HSE Management & Tracking.