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Five tips to help you identify hazards during your risk assessment so you can comply with health and safety laws

by , 25 February 2015
When doing a risk assessment, you must identify hazards. Assess the risks that come with each of them. And implement suitable risk control measures to reduce or prevent them.

It's crucial that you identify hazards effectively. If you leave anything out, your employees will still be in danger. And you know what that means: A rise in incident rates, DoL penalties, or even prosecution for not complying with health and safety laws.

Don't take that risk.

Use these five tips to identify hazards during your risk assessment so you can comply with health and safety laws.


Before we get to the tips, let's look at what a hazard really is
 

According to the Health & Safety Advisor, a hazard is a source of danger, for example:
 
  • Working at heights;
  • Electricity, etc.
 
It could also be:
 
  1. Exposure to danger, for example:
 
  • Working close to moving parts on equipment;
  • Working with chemicals;
  • Repetitive tasks, etc.
 
2. An action, for example:
 
  • Forgetting to lock out a piece of equipment to prevent it from accidentally switching on when maintenance staff are still at work.
 
3. An omission, for example:
 
  • Not following the safe work procedure for a high risk task.
 
When it comes to identifying hazards in your risk assessment, apply the following five tips to comply with health and safety laws…
 
 
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Complying with health and safety laws is easy if you have the know-how. Use these five tips to identify hazards during your risk assessment

 
Here are the tips the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work recommends you use to identify hazards:
 
#1: Walk around your workplace and look at what could cause harm to your employees
 
Identifying hazards isn't rocket science. A part of it involves just walking around your workplace – as your employees do their work or even when they don't – to spot dangers.
 
#2: Speak to your employees and their representatives about any problems they come across
 
Often the quickest and surest way to identify the details of what's really happening is to ask the workers who take part in the activity you want to assess. They will know what steps they follow, whether there are any shortcuts or ways of getting over a difficult task and what precautionary actions they take, says the Agency.
 
#3: Examine all aspects of your employee's work
 
Here, you must consider:
 
  • What actually happens in the workplace or during the work activity (you may find that what your employees do differs from your written procedures);
 
  • Non-routine and intermittent operations (for example, maintenance operations, changes in production cycles); and
 
  • Unplanned, but foreseeable, events such as interruptions to work activity.
 
#4: Get information from different sources
 
To get identify all hazards effectively, you must use different sources to get information. The different sources you can use are:
 
  • Manufacturers' and suppliers' instruction manuals or data sheets;
  • Occupational safety and health websites, (for example, healthandsafetyclub.co.za); and
  • Health and safety laws (some tell you the type of hazards to look out for if you're in a certain field).
 
#5: Look at your company's accident and ill-health records
 
These could reveal valuable information about hazards you didn't even know were there.
 
Following these tips will help you identify hazards during your risk assessment so you can comply with health and safety laws.
 
PS: For more information on risk assessment, check out Risk Assessment: The 100% legally compliant risk assessment toolkit.


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