Written by Steve Hudgik
A risk assessment of your workplace is a tool that can be used to improve safety. A workplace risk assessment has five basic parts:
- Identify the potential hazards in the workplace.
- Evaluate the hazards to determine the mechanism that may result in an injury (or equipment damage) and who might be injured.
- Solve the problem. Determine how the hazard can be eliminated, guarded or what protection needs to be provided so as to ensure the workplace is a safe workplace.
- Document the above three steps.
- Review the results of the risk assessment and update the assessment on a regular basis.
Employers are responsible for providing a safe workplace. A workplace risk assessment is a tool that can be used evaluate each task and operation, identify the hazards associated with them, and establish the exposure controls necessary to adequately protect workers. A risk assessment can be conducted using tools such as a Job Hazard Analysis (JHA).
When conducting a risk assessment involve a team that, if possible includes safety and health professionals, as well as the workers and their supervisors. These are the people who are the most familiar with the work to be evaluated.
What is a risk assessment?
A risk assessment systematically examines the workplace, looking at tasks, as well as locations, to identify hazards before they cause an injury. The risk assessment should look for potential equipment and facility damage, in addition to risks of worker injury. Keep in mind that any series of events that can damage equipment, can also cause an injury. In a risk assessment focus on the relationship between the worker, the task, the tools, and the work environment.
Your number one source of information for a risk assessment are the employees who perform the task being assessed or work in the area being evaluated for risks.
What are the benefits of a risk assessment?
The major benefit is safe workers. A risk assessment is a tool for finding and eliminating hazards in the workplace. Conducting a risk assessment, and properly abating the hazards that are found, will result in fewer worker injuries and illnesses; safer, more effective work methods; reduced workers' compensation costs; and increased worker productivity. The workplace risk assessment also will provide valuable information that can be used to better train new employees in how to perform their job safely.
Workplace Risk Assessment Step 1 - Identify Workplace Hazards
When performing a risk assessment evaluate every task being performed in your facility. Also look at every location and ask questions such as:
- What can go wrong?
- What are the consequences?
- What unexpected event might happen?
Workplace Risk Assessment Step 2 - Evaluate the hazards
In this step ask questions such as:
- How could it happen?
- What are the contributing factors?
- How likely is it that the hazard will occur?
Workplace Risk Assessment Step 3 - Solve The Problem
Follow the standard practices for addressing hazards identified by the risk assessment. If possible, eliminate the hazard. If it can not be eliminated, then use engineering or administrative controls to protect people from the hazard. If these do not provide 100% protection, then use PPE to protect individuals.
Workplace Risk Assessment Step 4 - Document
Document what was done in the first three steps, such as:
- How the risk assessments were conducted?
- What tasks or locations were evaluated?
- When the risk assessment was conducted?
- Who participated?
- What was found?
- The conclusions?
- What was done as a result of the risk assessment?
Workplace Risk Assessment Step 5 - Repeat
Establish a schedule for when the risk assessments and the workplace, will be re-evaluated. When repeating the risk assessment look for new equipment, changes to the workplace, and workers who have changed jobs. Changes provide openings for the unexpected to happen and that leads to workplace accidents.
Don't Forget Workplace Labels and Signs
Signs and labels throughout the workplace are a key communication tool. They provide safety information and warnings right at the location where it is needed. They remind people about the importance of safety. And they provide the operating instructions, maintenance procedures, wayfinding information, and process information workers need to do their job well and safely.
The leading workplace label and sign printers are DuraLabel printers. You'll find a DuraLabel printer that is right for your workplace by calling 1-888-326-9244. Call today and ask about the special DuraLabel package deals.