Level of hazard (poses a risk)
Each hazard should be studied to determine its’ level of risk. To research the hazard, you can look at:
Product information / manufacturer documentation.
Past experience (workers, etc).
Legislated requirements and/or applicable standards.
Industry codes of practice / best practices.
Health and safety material about the hazard such as material safety data sheets (MSDSs), or other manufacturer information.
Information from reputable organizations.
Results of testing (atmospheric, air sampling of workplace, biological, etc).
The expertise of an occupational health and safety professional.
Information about previous injuries, illnesses, “near misses”, accident reports, etc.
Remember to include factors that contribute to the level of risk such as:
The work environment (layout, condition, etc.).
The capability, skill, experience of workers who do the work.
The systems of work being used.
The range of foreseeable conditions.
Ranking or prioritizing hazards is one way to help determine which hazard is the most serious and thus which hazard to control first. Priority is usually established by taking into account the employee exposure and the potential for accident, injury or illness. By assigning a priority to the hazards, you are creating a ranking or an action list. The following factors play an important role:
Percentage of workforce exposed.
Frequency of exposure.
Degree of harm likely to result from the exposure.
Probability of occurrence.
There is no one simple or single way to determine the level of risk. Ranking hazards requires the knowledge of the workplace activities, urgency of situations, and most importantly, objective judgement.
Controlling of Risk
Once you have established your top priorities, you can decide on ways to control each specific hazard. Hazard control methods are often grouped into the following categories:
Elimination (including substitution).
Personal protective equipment.
Review and monitoring
It is important to know if your risk assessment was complete and accurate. It is also essential to be sure that changes in the workplace have not introduced new hazards or changed hazards that were once ranked as lower priority to a higher priority.
It is good practice to review your assessment on a regular basis to be sure that nothing has changed and that your control methods are effective. Triggers for a review can also include:
The start of a new project.
A change in the work process or flow.
A change or addition to tools, equipment, machinery (including locations or the way they are used).
Moving to a new building or work area.
Introduction of new chemicals or substances.
When new information becomes available about a current product.
Documentation for a risk assessment
Keeping records of your assessment and any control actions taken is very important. You may be required to store assessments for a specific number of years. Check for local requirements in your jurisdiction.
The level of documentation or record keeping will depend on:
Level of risk involved.
Requirements of any management systems that may be in place.
Your records should show that you:
Conducted a good hazard review.
Determined the risks of those hazards.
Implemented control measures suitable for the risk.
Reviewed and monitored all hazards in the workplace.
(this article was adapted from the Canadian center for occupational health and safety)
Author: Peter A. Williams is a Tax consultant, a Chartered Accountant and Certified Business Process Outsourcing Master Trainer and an SME finance coach. He blogs on issues on Finance, Management, Fraud, risk, Tax and business process re-engineering. He currently works with Pentecost University College as a Deputy Account Manager and was part-time Lecture in Quantitative Methods and Advance Taxation. He consults for Gospelgh.com pro bono. He may be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org or you can read more articles via: aklamanuwilliams.wordpress.com