A hazard, as defined by Safeopedia.com, is any object, situation, or behavior that has the potential to cause injury, ill health, or damage to property or the environment. There are health and safety hazards everywhere - even in your workplace. They can pose a danger to life and can be costly. Thus, it is important to identify and analyze them in order to devise measures to maintain a safe workplace.
Hazards may be identified through a safety inspection. A detailed report of the results of the inspection, indicating the unsafe condition or actions observed and their location is submitted to the management and the safety committee.
The hazard rating is a measure to determine the level of severity of each hazard observed during the safety inspection. The level considers the hazard’s magnitude, frequency or recurrence, and intensity at the impact point. It uses the ABC rating system, which helps both inspectors and employers in establishing priorities in carrying out corrective actions.
Hazard under rating “A” refers to any condition or practice that has the potential for causing loss of life, body part and/ or extensive loss of structure, equipment, or material. Generally, when the “A” rating is given, it indicates the need for immediate corrective action, and the activity should be discontinued until the hazard is corrected.
An example of a rating “A” Hazard is workers working at 15 feet high without safety belts.
The “B” rating is given to any condition or practice which can potentially cause serious injury, illness, or property damage. These are urgent situations that require attention as soon as possible.
An example of a rating “B” Hazard is workers are observed smoking in a flammable storage area.
The “C” rating is given to any condition or practice with a probable potential for causing a non-disabling injury or non-disruptive property damage. These hazards should be eliminated without delay, but the situation is not an emergency.
An example of a rating “C” Hazard is using a hammer with a loose head for jobs on a daily basis.
Best Practices for Finding and Recording Possible Hazards
It is essential to conduct regular safety inspections to find and record possible hazards that may be present in your workplace.
- Check all aspects of the work, including non-routine activities (cleaning, repair, or maintenance).
- Examine how work is organized and done, taking into consideration the systems in place and the level of experience of the worker.
- Do not forget to include examinations of work done outside of the workplace (at home, on other job sites, with clients, etc.).
- Review incident reports and records of accidents and near-misses. Interview the workers themselves as they can provide great information on possible hazards.
Aside from the examination of hazards and existing conditions, it is also best to be proactive in determining conditions that have not yet happened that could affect hazard control procedures, such as power outages.
- Look at foreseeable unusual conditions (for example, possible impact on hazard control procedures that may be unavailable in an emergency situation, power outage, etc.).
- Determine whether a product, machine, or equipment can be intentionally or unintentionally changed (e.g., a safety guard that could be removed).
- Review all of the phases of the life cycle.
- Examine risks to visitors or the public.
It is helpful for the people involved in doing inspections (e.g., employer representatives, worker representatives, health and safety committee members) developed a hazard rating list to use during workplace inspections. If this list is used for all inspections, hazards will be rated consistently on inspection reports, no matter who is inspecting or when checks are done.