Hazard Analysis: How It Can Help Your Business’s Bottom Line
One of the satisfactions of being a USF SafetyFlorida consultant is helping employers identify hazards that could cause an illness or injury to one or more of their employees.
In addition, I’ve seen that when employers tally up what hazard analysis can save them by reducing employee lost time, medical and insurance costs by removing the hazard, they appreciate the process of hazard analysis.
Different industries may use related terms -- job hazard analysis, work place assessment, self inspection, risk assessment or hazard evaluation, to name a few. For this article, I’ll call it hazard analysis. No matter which term you use, though, know that a hazard analysis is the first step in assessing risk and identifying hazards before they can occur.
A hazard analysis focuses on relationships--between the worker, the task, the tools, and the work environment. Once you understand that relationship and can identify uncontrolled hazards, you can take steps to eliminate or reduce them to an acceptable risk level.
Ideally, a comprehensive hazard analysis should be conducted prior to engaging in a risky task. Subsequent hazard identification inspections should be performed on a consistent basis.
Know What a Hazard Is
Before initiating an analysis, however, it’s important to first understand what a hazard is. A hazard is the potential for harm. In practical terms, a hazard is associated with a condition or activity that, if left uncontrolled, can result in an injury or illness. Identifying hazards and eliminating or controlling them as early as possible will help prevent injuries and illnesses from occurring.
Why do hazards matter? Because 18 Florida workers died on the job each month last year. Safety and health can help minimize workplace injuries and illnesses and also add value to your business, your job, and your life. Hazard prevention can occur when you look at your workplace operations, establish proper job procedures, and train employees properly.
Be Aware What a Hazard Can Indicate
Management can use the findings of a job hazard analysis to track hazards and abatements as well as analyze injuries, accidents and near misses. Furthermore, it can assist in selecting the proper protection controls for employees, such as of environmental, administrative and personal protection equipment.
While a hazard analysis can be conducted on many jobs in your workplace, priority should be given to the following types of jobs:
- Jobs with the highest injury or illness rates
- Jobs with the potential to cause severe or disabling injuries or illness, even if there is no history of previous accidents
- Jobs in which one simple human error could lead to a severe accident or injury
- Jobs that are new to your operation or have undergone changes in processes and procedures
- Jobs complex enough to require written instructions.
Here’s Where to Begin
Specifically, OSHA’s Personal Protective Equipment Standard requires that each employer must perform a workplace hazard analysis to determine if hazards are present, or are likely to be present, which require the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). If such hazards are present, or likely to be present, the employer shall:
- Select, provide and require the use of appropriate PPE for each affected employee.
- Communicate PPE selection decisions to each affected employee.
- Select and provide PPE that properly fits each affected employee.
- Conduct and document appropriate employee training.
In short, you must assess the risk in order to identify the hazards. Once you identify the hazards you can select which method of protection to use. The easiest way to do this is to create a job-specific self inspection checklist to help guide you through your facility in a consistent and systematic way in order to identify, track and help abate hazards.
As with everything we do in safety, documentation is paramount. Regardless of how comprehensive the hazard analysis is, it must be documented. This data can be captured in customized, job specific, self inspection forms. You can create these forms by using samples from our website and customizing them to your particular job tasks.
In summary, hazard analyses can eliminate and prevent hazards in the workplace, resulting in safer, more effective work methods; reduced workers' compensation costs; and increased worker productivity. Moreover, it can be a valuable tool for training new employees in the steps required to perform their jobs safely.
Let USF SafetyFlorida help you with a comprehensive, confidential analysis. Our services are free of charge, and our consultants are professionally trained in OSHA standards. Not only can they help you identify the hazards that have the potential to harm, but they will provide you with guidance on how to mitigate hazards—a win-win for your employees and bottom line.