Every workplace should have a system in place to identify, assess and control the hazards.

What is a safety hazard?

Safety hazards include any force that is strong enough to cause injury in an accident. Safety hazards occur most often when adequate workplace safety standards are not met.

What is an occupational health hazard?

An occupational health hazard is any material or condition that can cause occupational injuries and/or illness. Health hazards can cause immediate and serious effects, or slow and gradual injury. Some occupational health hazards include:

  • chemicals (acid, solvents, paint)
  • biological hazards (bacteria, viruses, dust, moulds)
  • physical agents (electric currents, heat, light, noise, radiation)
  • ergonomic hazards (poor work station designs)
  • other stress agents (violence, abuse, harassment)

What is the best way to control hazards in the workplace?

There are three main steps that can be taken in order to control hazards.

  1. Eliminate the hazards posed by equipment and work processes (i.e. redesign work stations, switch chemicals used in work, etc.).
  2. If eliminating the hazard is not possible, control the hazard to reduce the risk to workers (i.e. install machine guards or better ventilation systems, etc.)
  3. If controlling the hazards is not effective, protect the workers from risk with use of tools and protective equipment, and proper safety training.

How do I identify workplace hazards?

Employers should always ensure that work environments are as safe as possible. Part of assessing risk is setting up a proper job site analysis. Safety analysis should include the following steps:

  1. Select the job to be analyzed by reviewing injury data. Select the most common injuries and severe injuries to be analyzed first.
  2. Separate the job into its separate tasks or stages
  3. Identify the potential health and safety hazards at each stage
  4. Choose and implement safety standards
  5. Review the workplace safety analysis document regularly
  6. Update changes and improvements as necessary
  7. Effectively communicate safety standards and training throughout company

What questions should I ask when performing a workplace hazard assessment?

To help uncover potential workplace hazards, ask questions such as:

  • Can any body part be caught between objects?
  • Do any tools or machines present any hazards?
  • Can the worker make harmful contact with any machine parts?
  • Can the worker slip, trip, or fall?
  • Can the worker suffer from strains from lifting, pushing or pulling?
  • Is the worker exposed to extreme temperatures?
  • Is the worker exposed to extreme noise or vibration?
  • Is there a danger from falling objects?
  • Is proper lighting a concern?
  • Can weather conditions affect safety?
  • Is the worker exposed to harmful levels of radiation?
  • Is the worker exposed to chemical or biological hazards?
  • Is the worker exposed to dust, paint fumes, mists or vapours?
  • What unexpected hazards could arise?
  • What external forces could impact safety?