A hazard assessment is the process used to identify, assess, and control workplace hazards and the risks to employee health and safety. The assessment is an essential part of a company’s safety culture and safety management system. Hazard communication begins with the employee’s orientation and continues on a day-to-day, formal, and site-specific basis.
What is the Importance of Hazard Assessments?
What is the importance of hazard assessments and why do we complete them at the workplace? Hazard assessments help to improve day-to-day operations and employees become more proactive with identifying hazards while completing their daily tasks. Hazard assessments provide emphasis on specific areas, making the hazards known. Completing hazard assessments consistently, efficiently, and effectively will lower the risk of injuries and incidents from occurring at the workplace. Fewer incidents on site will ultimately lower WCB premiums and increase employee morale.
There are three hazard assessments commonly used on work sites. Those include Formal Hazard Assessments, Job Safety Analysis’ (JSA), and Field Level Hazard Assessments (FLHA).
Formal Hazard Assessment
These assessments follow a step-by-step process that look closely at the overall operations of a company to prevent employee related injuries and illnesses. It consists of an in-depth view of each position and task preformed at the workplace. They are used to identify hazards, measure risk, and implement and monitor effective controls. Once completed, the company will have recorders of detailed assessments that identify hazards, risk and controls for all tasks within the company. These records will require regular review and revisions as needed.
The end goal of a formal hazard assessment is to create a safer workplace and prevent work related injuries and illnesses. Formal hazard assessments take place over a longer period, as resources and commitment are required to complete the full process.
The process to complete a formal hazard assessment:
Job Safety Analysis (JSA)
JHAs are performed before work starts at a site and where conditions change or when non-routine work is added. This flags hazards identified at the location (e.g. overhead powerlines, poor lighting, wet surfaces, extreme temperatures, the presence of wildlife), or introduced by a change at the work site (e.g. scaffolding, unfamiliar chemicals, introduction of new equipment). Any hazards identified are to be eliminated or controlled before work begins or continues.
Four basic stages in conducting a JSA:
Field Level Hazard Assessment (FLHA)
A field level hazard assessment (FLHA) is a site-specific hazard assessment completed daily and updated if there is a change in task or conditions. The field level hazard assessment identifies the hazards employees will encounter during their workday, as well as the controls implemented for those hazards. Generally, the hazards identified in an FLHA are hazards that have not already been identified on the other forms of hazard assessments. The FLHA should be completed and signed off by all employees assigned to the specific task or crew.