Workplace hazards can be defined as dangerous situations or risks involving illness or injury an individual could experience while working. All companies are exposed to different levels and types of hazards depending on their industry. For this reason, developing and implementing procedures or programmes aimed at maintaining a safe work environment should be one of the primary goals of any organisation.

We are running a six part series on how small businesses can be work, health & safety compliant. In part one we, looked at why management commitment is important in the development and prioritisation of workplace health and safety practices. In part two, we looked at the importance of employee consultation in developing health and safety policies.

This week, we look at hazard management and how you can identify hazards, perform a risk assessment, develop and safe work procedure and how to regularly review your plan to ensure it remains effective.

Whether your business operations are done in an office, a manufacturing plant, or a construction site, you can apply measures to help minimise hazards and promote workplace safety. Let’s look at some steps you can start implementing:

Identify Hazards
Recognising and identifying risky situations and dangerous practices are the first steps employers must take to manage hazards.

By reviewing records of illnesses, injuries, and accidents; reports from workers, including first aid logs and complaints; as well as reports from enforcement and facility inspections and insurance surveys or consultations, you can determine the trends and identify unsafe and unhealthy work practices or habits.

Perform a Risk Assessment
A certain level of risk is associated with each hazard. By doing a risk assessment it will help you to decide on the right control measures for a particular hazard as well as find out what causes the risks, the consequences, and which workers are exposed to those risks by conducting a job hazard analysis.

Prioritize the risks you find and make a long-term plan to manage and correct those hazards.

Develop Safe Work Procedures
Once you’ve identified and conducted a risk assessment, you can then develop your company’s safe work plan. This plan should include the risks for injury related to the task. These will obviously be industry and workplace specific but consider risks such as vibration, noise, biological hazards, and electrical currents.

Your safe work plan can also include and explain various engineering and administrative controls like eliminating the hazards by making sure the workers use safe tools and equipment and reducing hazards by applying work shifts and other measures that will keep your workers safe in the workplace. The plan should also include detail on performing tasks safely and the emergency and accident processes. Moreover, this plan can also be a useful tool for responding to incident reports and training and supervising your workers.

Review and Improve Your Plan
Regularly review your control measures and safe work plan to make sure they remain effective and up to date. Determine your plan’s strengths and weaknesses and continually improve it by making necessary and appropriate amendments. You can achieve this by conducting regular workplace/equipment inspections, consulting with specialists, testing and analysing records or data, evaluating injury and illness statistics, and keeping your employees involved.

Every workplace and industry has associated risks and hazards. Fortunately, there are measures and procedures that both employers and employees can take to minimise or eliminate such hazards. In efforts to maintain a healthy work environment and keep your workers safe in the workplace, we suggest you consider taking action on the steps we’ve outlined above. For more information, or to chat to an expert, contact us here.

Stay tuned for part four of our series on how small businesses can be work, health & safety complaint.