A hazard is something or someone that has the potential to cause harm.
So why do those that assess risk in the workplace get confused when indentifying hazards?
One of the most important aspects of your risk assessment is accurately identifying the potential hazards in your workplace. A good starting point is to walk around your workplace and think about any hazards. In other words, what is it about the activities, processes or substances used that could injure your employees or harm their health?
For example, would you walk into a closed door? No of course you wouldn’t. You would open it, walk through and close it behind you.
So what is the hazard? The answer is the door. Opening, walking through and closing the door are the control measures to reduce the risk of the door causing harm, sounds simple right? It is.
Another example would be a cable lying across the floor. Is it a hazard? Yes it is, so why do people writing risk assessments class slips, trips and falls as a hazard? Clearly they are a consequence of the hazard, in this scenario, a cable.
To summarise, a hazard has the potential to cause harm, it’s not a consequence, it is an object or being. So get out there and look for hazards, how many can you identify?
Next time we will talk about risk. If you want to gain more knowledge, get yourself enrolled on our Accredited IOSH Managing Safely course or one of our bespoke risk assessment courses.
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