Identifying Hazards in the Workplace
Safety and health issues in the workplace should be addressed just the same as production and all other aspects of the business. Management should evaluate the work environment, analyze the specific tasks and all associated risks of each job. A Health and Safety survey should include a review of employee work habits, the use of all hazardous materials, physical risks from the use of potentially dangerous tools or equipment. In addition, specific standards that are applicable to the type of operation should be reviewed for compliance.
The goal is to determine the where, what and how a worker is likely to be injured.
As much information as possible should be gathered about current conditions in the workplace, as well as the possibility of injuries that could be related to the use of:
- Chemicals (toxic, flammable, corrosive, explosive)
- Electrical such as shock/short circuit, fire, static, loss of power Ergonomics (strains) issues that might result in injury
- Excavation accidents from collapse of dirt or walls Explosion from chemical reaction, over pressurization
- Falls due to unsafe conditions causing slipping or tripping from heights or flat walking surfaces
- Falls due to poor housekeeping, uneven surfaces and exposed ledges
- Fire or heat causing burns
- Mechanical problems resulting in chaffing, vibration, material fatigue, body parts exposed to injury
- Noises causing hearing damage, inability to communicate, increased stress
- Injury from falling objects or projectiles
- Injury to the body from tools such as saws, screwdrivers, hammers
- Temperature extremes resulting in heat stress, heat exhaustion or hypothermia
- Visibility problems due to poor lighting, obstructions resulting in injury
- Weather phenomena such as rain, snow, wind, ice which increases hazards
After an assessment of the workplace, any existing Injury and Illness Prevention Program should be evaluated to identify areas that are working well now and those that need improvement. After all the facts have been gathered, the next step will be the action plan for the development of an effective safety program.