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Hazard Assessments, it is fun quick and safe for everyone The regulatory requirements for conducting hazard assessments. It discusses identification of potential hazards and the information required to complete a hazard assessment. The purpose of a hazard assessment is to evaluate the work environment or process to determine if there is a hazard. If a hazard is discovered, then the assessment also helps to determine the best way to protect an employee from injury or illness. "Each employer shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees." Agencies can use hazard assessments as a tool to help determine the hazards associated with the tasks performed by employees. Hazard assessments, sometimes called a hazard analysis, safety audit, job safety analysis, or job hazard analysis, evaluate dangerous or potentially dangerous situations to determine if corrections can be made or how to protect employees from the situation or process. Hazard, as defined by Webster’s Dictionary, is a possible source of danger; the potential to cause harm; a possibility of incurring loss or misfortune; an obstacle and a chance of being injured or harmed. Hazards fall into three major categories: physical hazards, environmental hazards and health hazards. Physical hazards can be defined as moving objects, temperature extremes, lighting, and sharp edges. Examples of environmental hazards include lightning, wind, rain, and snow. Health hazards can be defined as exposure above the allowable limits to dusts, chemicals, and radiation. Hazards can be grouped into basic categories that include: Impact (falling objects) Penetration Compression (roll-over or pinching) Chemical exposure (inhalation, ingestion, injection, or skin contact) Temperature extremes (heat/cold) Respiratory (harmful dust) Radiation Noise Vibration Electrical Light (optical) radiation (welding, cutting, brazing). When looking for additional sources of hazards, remember to evaluate the workplace for: Electrical hazards The layout of work area Presence of sharp objects or edges Stacked or stored objects that could fall or roll Types of chemical exposures Sources of harmful dusts Moving parts or machinery or equipment Temperature extremes Sources of light radiation. Remember that the circumstances that cause hazards can change from day to day. It is essential that monitoring of the work environment take place on a frequent basis to help reduce or eliminate the hazards that cause injuries. Agencies often view hazard assessments as a time-consuming task that does not provide immediate benefit. However, there are several assessment tools already in place that agencies can use to help conduct a thorough hazard assessment. Accident/incident investigations Routine inspections/audits of the facilities Internal accident databases. Other resources that are available to agencies are: OH & S logs Workers’ Compensation data Material Safety Data Sheets Safety committees Employee observation Best practices for your agency’s functions. Hazard assessments are a regulatory requirement for some standards. However, they are really a best practice that can help to reduce or eliminate the potential of injuries and illnesses. Most agencies have some of the assessment tools in place. These tools in combination with a formal hazard assessment can reduce the frequency and severity of accidents by identifying a hazard before the injury occurs.
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