Conduct Site-Specific Hazard Assessments – Safetip #214

Safety Tip and Best Practice
July 08, 2020

Our latest Safetip is about conducting site-specific hazard assessments in addition to formal hazard assessments.

Two Types of Hazard Assessments

A hazard is a potential source of harm that may cause illness, injury, environmental damage, or damage to property or equipment.

When a hazard is identified, a risk assessment is performed to evaluate the likelihood of an incident due to exposure to the hazard, and the severity of the consequences of the incident.

The identification of hazards is the first step, and it’s done through hazard assessments.

But not all hazard assessments are the same.

The government of the Canadian province of Alberta published a hazard assessment and control handbook. The document is very useful and does a good job of explaining the differences between the two types of assessments:

Formal Hazard Assessment: This looks at the overall operations of an organization to identify hazards and implement controls. Jobs or types of work are broken down into separate tasks. Formal hazard assessments are detailed, can involve many people, and require time to complete.

Site-Specific Hazard Assessment: Sometimes called a “field-level hazard assessment”, this is used to address hazards that show up because of changing circumstances at a work site.

Characteristics of Site-Specific Hazard Assessments

Site-specific hazard assessments check for hazards before work starts at a site, and at a site where conditions change or when non-routine work is added.

The handbook also says that a site-specific hazard assessment must be conducted when workers travel to different sites to perform work (e.g. a work crew goes to the scene of a downed power line to do repairs).

Site-specific hazard assessments flag hazards that are either:

  • Identified at the location. Examples include overhead power lines, poor lighting, slippery surfaces, extreme temperatures, the presence of wildlife, etc.
  • Introduced by a change at the work site. Examples include scaffolding, unfamiliar chemicals, introduction of new equipment, etc.

Identified hazards must be eliminated or controlled right away, before work begins or continues.

Finally, if a site-specific hazard assessment identifies a hazard that was overlooked during a formal hazard assessment, the latter should be updated to include the new hazard.

Check out the handbook for more details, including a site-specific hazard assessment and control template that you can use.

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Jean-Grégoire Manoukian

Content Thought Leader - Wolters Kluwer | Enablon