A hazard is any condition or action that can cause an organizational loss. An organizational loss can come in the form of an injury, illness, damaged equipment, or even worker turnover. When a loss occurs, the organization must determine the root cause of the loss and not just the symptoms leading to the loss event. The assessment process must be structured, detailed, and deliver actionable measures to address the root cause. Hazard identification and assessment can be accomplished by:
- Worksite analysis of past, present, and predictive data from reports, instrumentation and maintenance logs, even worker injury and illness records
- Worksite inspections for safety hazards
- Investigate each accident until the root cause is completely disclosed
- Identify hazards that may arise outside of normal operating conditions including emergencies, start-up, or shut-down operations.
- Characterize the true composition of a hazard, give a priority value to them, and identify appropriate hazard controls
The prevention and control of hazard protect the worker from injury and illness, but also give employees a clear sign that the organization cares about their well being. Elimination of hazards is the best way to avoid an organizational lose. However, that may not be possible in all situations. Therefore, hazard control is appropriate for some hazards that are still present when workers are performing their daily tasks. Although some organizations, like utilities, are practicing substitution of highly hazardous chemicals such as gas chlorine to liquid chlorine. It is mostly because they are trying to avoid the Risk Management Program, regulated by the EPA, and not primarily worker safety. The hierarchy of hazard controls after elimination and substitution are:
- Engineering (Physical barrier-device such as a machine guard)
- Administrative (Work rule-such as work rotation)
- PPE (Protection worn by workers as a barrier to hazards-such as a hardhat)
Tips for implementing hazard prevention and controls are as follows:
- Identifying what controls are available for each type of hazard
- Selecting the proper controls by doing a detailed hazard assessment SMS Assessment Guide (23 downloads)
- Develop, maintain, and update a hazard control plan
- Select controls that are applicable for all aspects of the organization and conditions
- Implement the selected hazard controls with a priority on elimination and substitution of hazards
- Follow up on all hazard controls for each task to make sure they are protective enough
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