Safetip #110: 4 Main Contributing Factors to Workplace Hazards
An occupational safety and health program must include risk assessments that aim to prevent injuries and illnesses. A risk assessment process is composed of the following steps:
1) Hazard Identification
2) Risk Analysis and Evaluation
3) Risk Control
Cover All Categories of Hazards
During the crucial first step of a risk assessment (Hazard Identification), be sure to cover both safety and health hazards equally. Some organizations focus more on safety hazards, but health hazards may produce an equal or greater risk of harm to workers. Here are some examples of safety and health hazards:
- Slips, trips, falls
- Working at heights
- Electrical hazards
- Equipment and machinery operation
- Fire protection
- Chemical hazards (e.g. exposure to, and inhalation of, chemicals)
- Physical hazards (e.g. noise, extreme temperatures)
- Biological hazards (e.g. infectious diseases, bacteria)
- Ergonomic hazards (e.g. heavy lifting, repetitive movements)
- Psychological Hazards (e.g. stress, workplace violence)
Be Aware of the Main Contributing Factors
Being aware of the main categories and types of hazards allows you to go one step further and become aware of contributing factors to hazards. According to a handbook on Hazard Assessment and Control, these are the four main contributing factors to consider:
- Are they well trained and competent in performing the work?
- Are they overtired?
- What motivates them (e.g. speed or quality)?
- Is there poor communication?
- Are equipment and tools appropriate for the task?
- Is the equipment properly installed and maintained?
- Are the manufacturer’s specifications being followed?
- What materials are being used?
- Are they being handled, stored and disposed of properly?
- Where is the work site (e.g. an office, vehicle, field, etc.)?
- Does the work environment introduce any hazards? Factors include facility layout, ventilation, lighting, walking surfaces, etc.
By being aware of the four main contributing factors of workplace hazards, you will significantly improve the hazard identification step of your risk assessment. Finally, don’t forget to review risk assessments periodically.
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