In any workplace, ensuring the safety of employees should always be the top priority. Safety hazards can lead to injuries, illness, and even fatalities, so it is crucial to identify potential hazards and take steps to mitigate them. Here are some tips on how to find safety hazards in the workplace.
1. Conduct a Walkthrough
One of the simplest and most effective ways to identify safety hazards in the workplace is to conduct a walkthrough. Walkthroughs involve physically walking through the workplace and observing the work environment. This can help you identify potential hazards such as cluttered workspaces, exposed wires, and uneven flooring.
During the walkthrough, make sure to look for any signs of wear and tear on equipment and machinery. Check for any leaks, cracks, or other damage that could indicate a potential safety hazard. Additionally, observe how employees interact with the work environment and identify any unsafe practices or behaviours. This includes observing how they interact with each other, looking for signs of tension or potential issues.
2. Review Incident Reports
Another way to identify safety hazards is to review incident reports. These reports document any accidents or incidents that have occurred in the workplace. By reviewing these reports, you can identify patterns or trends that may indicate a safety hazard.
For example, if there have been multiple reports of employees slipping and falling in a specific area of the workplace, this may indicate a hazard such as a wet or uneven surface. By identifying these patterns, you can take steps to mitigate the hazard and prevent future incidents from occurring, such as re-surfacing the area with an anti-slip coating. Remember before making any changes, consider what new hazards or issues may arise from those proposed changes. Consult with your team about this.
3. Conduct Safety Audits (workplace inspections)
Regular safety audits can help identify potential safety hazards before they cause harm. Safety audits involve a comprehensive review of the workplace to identify any potential safety hazards. This can include a review of safety policies and procedures, as well as an inspection of the physical work environment.
During a safety audit, it is essential to look for hazards such as faulty equipment, inadequate lighting, and improper storage of hazardous materials. You should also review the workplace’s emergency response plan and ensure that it is up to date and effective.
You would use an audit or workplace inspection template for this purpose. The ACT Government has a good example template you can use on their website: ACT Government WHS Inspection Checklist.
4. Involve Employees
Your employees can be an excellent source of information when it comes to identifying safety hazards. They are the ones who work in the environment every day and are most likely to be aware of potential hazards. By soliciting feedback from employees, you can identify potential safety hazards that may have been overlooked during other inspections.
Employee feedback can be obtained through simply asking the team in person as you do an inspection, in a regular safety or toolbox talk or through surveys or focus groups. Make sure to encourage open and honest communication and assure employees that their feedback will be taken seriously.
5. Stay Up to Date on Codes of Practice
Staying up to date on Codes of Practice and industry standards can help identify potential safety hazards. Codes of Practice are established to promote safety and reduce the risk of workplace accidents. By staying informed of the latest Codes and standards, you can identify potential hazards that may not have been previously identified.
You can stay up to date on Codes of Practice and industry standards by reading state regulator websites and subscribing to their news and updates, downloading and reading the relevant Codes, attending industry conferences, participating in training programs, and reading industry publications.
6. Conduct Job Safety Analysis
A Job Safety Analysis (or JSA) involves breaking down each task in a job and identifying potential hazards associated with each task. This process can help identify hazards that may have been overlooked during other inspections. Job Safety Analysis can be conducted in collaboration with employees who perform the tasks, which can provide a better understanding of the work environment and potential hazards. You would use a specific JSA form/template to undertake this activity.
7. Review Safety Data Sheets
Safety Data Sheets (SDS) provide detailed information about the hazards associated with chemicals used in the workplace. Employers should review SDSs for all chemicals used in the workplace to identify potential hazards and ensure that appropriate safety measures are in place.
8. Conduct Safety Training
Safety training is critical for ensuring that employees are aware of potential hazards in the workplace and know how to work safely. Employers should provide regular safety training to all employees, including new hires and temporary workers. Training should cover topics such as hazard identification, proper use of personal protective equipment, and emergency procedures.
9. Use Technology
Technology can be used to identify and monitor potential safety hazards in the workplace. For example, sensors can be installed to monitor air quality, temperature, and humidity levels. Additionally, software can be used to track and analyse safety data, such as accident reports and hazard assessments.
10. Review External Feedback
Often external feedback or stakeholder information can be gathered to assess hazards that may exist in the workplace but may have been overlooked by employees or the company. This may include complaints about the site/service bathrooms, facilities, walking tracks, carpark potholes or lighting etc. It could be gathered through reviewing marketing or customer service data or online information/reviews.
Identifying safety hazards in the workplace is crucial for ensuring the safety and well-being of employees, contractors and visitors. A combination of methods should ensure that as many hazards are detected as possible. Hazard identification procedures should include various methods and be done on a systematic, rotational basis.
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The information provided in these blog articles is general in nature and is not intended to substitute for professional advice. If you are unsure about how this information applies to your specific situation we recommend you contact Employment Innovations for advice.