Safetip #89: Formal and Site-Specific Hazard Assessments
Two Common Types of Hazard Assessments
While the concepts of hazard and hazard assessment are familiar to many, it is also good to distinguish between the two common types of hazard assessments. A handbook on hazard assessment and control, provided by the Ministry of Labor of the Canadian province of Alberta, defines the two types of assessments in the following way:
“A formal hazard assessment takes a close look at the overall operations of an organization to identify hazards, measure risk (to help prioritize hazards), and develop, implement and monitor related controls. Worker jobs or types of work are broken down into separate tasks. Formal hazard assessments are detailed, can involve many people, and will require time to complete.”
“A site-specific hazard assessment (also called “field-level”) is performed before work starts at a site and at a site where conditions change or when non-routine work is added. This flags hazards identified at the location (e.g. overhead powerlines, poor lighting, wet surfaces, extreme temperatures, the presence of wildlife), or introduced by a change at the work site (e.g. scaffolding, unfamiliar chemicals, introduction of new equipment). Any hazards identified are to be eliminated or controlled right away, before work begins or continues.”
The handbook also mentions that formal and site-specific hazard assessments may work separately, but are most effective when they are used together. If a site-specific hazard assessment uncovers a hazard that was not identified by the formal assessment, the formal assessment should be updated to include it.
Finally, remember that hazards and risks are different. After having identified hazards, risks must be assessed by determining the likelihood that hazards may cause adverse events (e.g. incidents) and the consequences of the adverse events. Risks are then prioritized for mitigation by considering both likelihood and consequences. This is followed by the identification and implementation of control measures to mitigate risks of adverse events if hazards cannot be eliminated or substituted.
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