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Three precautions you can take to reduce risks in your workplace

by , 10 April 2013
You must identify the hazards and risks in your company. To do this, you have to perform a risk assessment. When you've identified the hazards and risks that they pose to your employees, you need to take precautionary measures and address problems that pose the highest risk first.

But, what precautionary measures can you take to counteract these risks? Let's have a look at three of them ...

Here's how you can be 100% sure your risk assessments are legally compliant
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Can you afford to not have it?
Three precautionary measures you can take to reduce risks in your workplace
1. Engineering control measures.
2. Management controls to reduce exposure to risk; and
3. Personal protective equipment (PPE)
Let's take a look at each one in more detail…
1. Engineering control measures
The best time to think about the safety of a machine or process is when it's still being designed. In the early stages, you can see if it's possible to remove hazards by engineering things differently if you're in consultation with the manufacturing company. Doing this means you're concentrating on the source of the hazard rather than on the person exposed to it.
Engineering controls can include (but are not limited to) any of the following:
  • Elimination – For example, machines should conform to national safety standards - they should be designed with the correct guard on them to eliminate the danger of a worker getting caught in the machine while using it.
  • Substitution – For example, substitute dangerous chemicals or work processes for safer ones;
  • Isolation - For example, dust-producing work should be isolated from other work areas to prevent other workers from being exposed. At the same time, workers in the dusty areas must be protected with PPE and restricted to only a short time working in those areas;
  • Ventilation - you must make sure there's proper ventilation in your workplace. A simple way to see how well the ventilation extract system in your workplace is working, is to sprinkle some dust or hold a piece of cloth near the exhaust outlet. If there's little air movement, then the ventilation system isn't working properly and should be repaired;
  • Enclosure - For example, enclosure guards prevents employees from coming into contact with dangerous moving parts of a machine by enclosing the parts or forming a barrier around the dangerous parts. This type of guard also prevents broken and flying machine parts from hitting you.

Health and Safety Club Question of the day! 
I have a small, three man plumbing business and have just been awarded a contract to install geysers etc. for a GAP project,  where I would be employing casual labourers on a daily basis for the duration of the project for which I need a HSSE plan.
My understanding is that for starters I need to have a risk assessment done? Could you please advise what I need for this type of business to make me legally compliant.
Remember you can also get your questions answered and answer other people's questions - all you have to do is register on the Health and Safety Club, its FREE

2. Management controls
Management controls include any procedures that significantly limit daily exposure by controlling or
manipulating the work schedule; or changing the way in which work is done.
Management controls can reduce exposure to risk through some of the following measures:
  • Change work habits;
  • Improve sanitation and hygiene practices;
  • Change the way the job is performed;
  • Written safe work procedures (WSWP); and/or
  • Safe operating procedures (SOP).
Take this quick quiz to find out if you can handle the DoL hot seat
Which risk assessments have to be checked by an approved inspector every two years?
Is it absolutely necessary for your company to appoint and train someone as a risk assessor?
When was the last time you did a risk assessment? (Is that too long?)
Have you checked and double checked the less obvious health hazards?
If you can't answer even one of these questions you're not only putting your employee's lives at risk; you're also putting yourself in danger of massive fine from the DoL.
Don't wait until it's too late.
3. Personal protective equipment (PPE)
If there's no other reasonable, cost effective way to prevent exposure to hazards, resort to PPE.
PPE can include (but is not limited to) any of the following:
  • Suitable goggles, spectacles, face shields, welding shields, visors, hard hats, protective helmets, caps, gloves, gauntlets, aprons, jackets, capes, sleeves, leggings, spats, gaiters, protective footwear, protective overalls, or any similar safety equipment or facility of a type that will effectively prevent bodily injury;
  • Waterproof clothing, high visibility clothing, chemical resistant clothing, low temperature clothing, chain mail garments, waders, fire retardant or flameproof clothing, ice jackets, or any similar safety equipment of a type that will effectively protect the wearer against harm;
  • Belts, harnesses, nets, fall arresters, lifelines, safety hooks, or any similar equipment of a type that will effectively protect persons against falls;
  • Mats, barriers, locking out devices, safety signs or any similar facility that will effectively prevent slipping, unsafe entry or unsafe conditions;
  • Protective ointments, ear-muffs, ear plugs, respirators, breathing apparatus, masks, air lines, hoods, helmets or any similar safety equipment or facility of a type that will effectively protect against harm; and
  • Suitable insulating material underfoot where persons work on a floor made of metal, stone or concrete or other similar material.
These precautionary measures form the basis of a formal risk management system. Make sure you  implement and maintain precautionary measures to reduce or eliminate the risks that could harm your employees.
Find out more about how to conduct risk assessments and implement precautionary measures from Risk Assessment: The 100% legally compliant risk assessment toolkit.
Until next time,
Stay safe,

Kerusha Narothan
Product Manager of the Health and Safety Advisor
P.S. Get the Risk Assessment Matrix and guide with the Risk Assessment: The 100% legally compliant risk assessment toolkit to help you assess the hazards and risks in your workplace.

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