The hazard identification, risk assessment and control process is the foundation of an effective occupational health and safety management system ("OHSMS"). National and International OHSMS standards require this process to be carried out as the basis of an effectively functioning management system. The rest of the OHSMS cannot function properly without thoroughly and effectively identifying hazards, assessing their risk and implementing controls to minimize their risk.
For the past year I have been participating in the development of a CSA Standard
(CSA Z1002) on this very process. This is a much needed standard as Canadian legislation in this area is lacking. Only a handful of jurisdictions specifically require this process to be carried out while legal requirements in most other jurisdictions only imply
that this process be carried out.
For instance, Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act
requires supervisors to "advise a worker of the existence of any potential or actual danger to the health or safety of the worker of which the supervisor is aware", which implies that hazards have to be identified. On the other hand, Part 2 of Alberta's Occupational Health and Safety Code
, titled "Hazard Assessment, Elimination and Control" requires employers to "assess a work site and identify existing and potential hazards before work begins..." It goes on to require that employers implement the hierarchy of controls
for any identified hazards. But even this fairly progressive legislation has its faults. It doesn't provide much practical advice with respect to carrying out this process and even the OHS Code Explanation Guide
falls short of describing what I would consider a reasonable hazard identification, risk assessment and control process. Employers are left to interpret these legal requirements and in my experience it is rare to find two employers who are carrying out this process in a similar fashion. The result is a whack of spreadsheets and hard copies being stored in all corners of an organization.
The most effective method of carrying out this process is through an effective Job Safety Analysis
that results in adequate safe work procedures. The real key with respect to due diligence is to demonstrate that the risk of EACH identified hazard has been assessed and that the risk was minimized by implementing effective controls. This is something that the safe work procedures provided by SafetySync do an excellent job of displaying visually. You can't argue with the value of that due diligence evidence. Be sure to check it out
We've got a long way to go as far as standardizing this process but SafetySync is a great place to start. CSA Z1002 should also provide much needed guidance in this area, help get employers on the same page in relation to this process and go a long way in protecting the health and safety of workers.
Image at Left: Screen shot of sample risk matrix chooser in SafetySync software. Administrators simply click on the corresponding box for the appropriate Probability and Severity.