Published on 1st February 2011
Welcome to February’s Health & Safety Update.
This month we take a look at some guidance by the Health & Safety Executive to help you identify and evaluate the hazards in your workplace – so you can provide a safe working environment for all and avoid costly litigation.
Start by understanding what a hazard is. Depending on the nature of your business, the types of hazards will vary.
It’s possible to separate the many types of workplace hazards into four main categories:
Ask around and find out from employees. Your employees are a great source of information, since they are the ones who are responsible for carrying out the tasks on a daily basis, and hence, they will be aware of the potential hazards present at the workplace.
Check regularly for safety at the job. Assess your workers' daily tasks and check whether there are potential hazards at each step of the process. If at all you do come across any risks, inform the staff.
Examine the types of injuries and illnesses, as well as the severity and regularity of them at the workplace. These are just a few ways to help you identify workplace hazards.
For each hazard that you identify you need to be clear about who is at risk of being harmed. This will help you to decide on the best way to manage that risk. Instead of listing every single employee, identify them as groups of people. For example, visitors, contractors.
In each case, identify how they might be harmed, i.e. what type of injury or ill health might occur. For example, ‘shelf stackers may suffer back injury from repeated lifting of boxes’.
Once you have identified the risks and who is most likely to be at harm, you must then decide what action to take. The law requires you to do everything ‘reasonably practicable’ to protect people from harm.
Please see the example risk assessment below as guidance:
|Substitution for less hazardous alternatives
Engineering control such as extract ventilation
Personal protective equipment
Suitable storage facilities for substances and goods
Fire retardant furniture and fittings
Residual circuit breakers
Inspection and testing of systems and appliances
|Reduce the noise at source
Demarcation of danger zones
It’s important that you record all significant findings and review at regular intervals, or when a change to practice or process occurs, or following an accident.
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