Getting down to the basics of health and safety, it’s important that employees know how they could be injured doing their job and how to protect themselves. This is what hazard assessments are all about and they’re a very important piece of a health and safety program. Putting it more formally, hazard assessments are a systematic way to identify tasks that employees perform, document the hazards within those tasks, and assign controls (methods that protect workers form those hazards).
What about risk?
Risk is basically the degree of danger that a hazard presents and it’s communicated in some quantifiable form, such as low, medium or a high risk. Many times, risk is included in hazard assessments, and the hazards in the hazard assessment will be assigned a risk level e.g. operating the forklift presents a medium risk. By including risk in hazard assessments, the most dangerous hazards can be identified - which is useful in determining priorities for health and safety, and for workers’ understanding of which hazards could cause them the most harm.
Alberta health and safety programs that have been awarded a Certificate of Recognition (COR) must include risk in their hazard assessments.
Are hazard assessments mandatory?
Yes, the Alberta Occupational Health and Safety Code requires that all Alberta workplaces perform hazard assessments. In addition, workers must participate in the hazard assessment program and assessments must be documented in writing. There are other requirements for hazards assessments too, please see the Alberta Occupational Health and Safety Code. Note that other provinces in Canada will have similar requirements.
Workers and hazard assessments
When preparing hazard assessments, remember that workers are the target audience. After all, one of the primary purposes of hazard assessments is to communicate to workers how they could get hurt and how they are to protect themselves. So, workers are to be knowledgeable in the assessment for their job and are to participate in developing assessments; this is a requirement of the Alberta Occupational Health and Safety Code. To meet these requirements, health and safety training needs to be provided to workers in the hazard assessment program.
As an Alberta health and safety company, we understand the importance of thorough and professional hazard assessments. Wilco Health and Safety is a Calgary health and safety company that has performed hundreds of hazard assessments, and has developed hazard assessment programs for dozens of companies and organizations. Contact us today to discuss your hazard assessment program and or how we can assist in developing and performing hazard assessments for your organization.