2023 Quick Guide in Identifying Hazards in the Workplace
According to the latest Australian Workers’ Compensation Statistics provided by SafeWork Australia, in 2020–21, there were a total of 130,195 workers’ compensation claims for serious work-related injuries or illnesses. 87% of these were for workplace injuries, which includes internal organ damage, connective tissue disease, and traumatic muscle injuries. Although these numbers are expected to improve in the succeeding years, it is evident that work-related injuries are still prevalent.
To avoid workplace accidents that result to injuries, it is important to have a workplace safety plan in place. But before creating or implementing one, it is vital to properly identify every hazard in the workplace.
1. Physical Assessment of the Workplace
A thorough examination of the whole worksite should be conducted to find places or even possible circumstances that can cause harm. This can be done with the help of safety inspection specialists or just with the management team. Among the most common high-risk areas include places with cables or hoses, sources of liquid, transition areas, slippery surfaces, and locations of equipment and machinery. These areas should be one of the main focuses of a safety plan.
2. Workers’ Insights
It is also important to consult the workers and/or their supervisors about possible safety issues. These personnel are the ones who are knowledgeable, not only on the ins and outs of all their work processes, but also of the existing risks in the workplace. Most of the time, they are also able to provide insights on the various safety precautions needed to avoid accidents and injuries, including the use of protective workwear.
3. Assessment of All Aspects of Work
All aspects and processes involved on every work conducted on the site should be examined. There should be a clear picture on what actually happens in the workplace during working hours. Take note that actual practices may vary from what are stated on work manuals. Also, non-routine and intermittent operations such as maintenance jobs or production cycle changes should also be considered.
4. Health Hazard Considerations
As an addition to assessing risks for accidents, it is also important to look into health hazards in the workplace. This is to ensure that the workplace safety plan covers everything and proper steps are taken to prevent workers from acquiring illnesses. One of the common examples is the risk of respiratory conditions in workplaces with adequate ventilation. With proper assessments made, it is easy to find ways to manage risks. As in the aforementioned case, the use of proper respiratory gear can be the solution.
5. Assessment of Company Accident Records
Company owners or managers should also look into their accident records. By paying attention on the causes and effects of the work-related mishaps that happened in the workplace, a better safety and risk reduction plan can be implemented. As a result, accidents that occurred in the past can be avoided.
Furthermore, it is important to acquire other information about workplace safety from other trusted sources. These include manufacturers’ instruction manuals (for equipment and machinery), occupational health and safety blogs or websites, national bodies or trade associations, legal regulations, and government policies.