A well-rounded hazard identification process is at the core of any effective safety program. It’s the foundational step upon which the rest of the program is built and often an under-explored cost-reduction strategy. Accurately and preemptively identifying workplace hazards helps keep employees safe, boosts morale, and lowers operational costs. Hazard identification also helps employers meet their obligation to provide employees with a workplace free of recognized hazards. However, before implementing a successful hazard identification process, employers should establish the following measures:
- Employee involvement and active participation. Employees are on the front lines and often the first to identify hazards. Employers must create an environment that encourages hazard reporting.
- Leadership’s commitment sets the tone for safety efforts. Employees who sense leadership isn’t committed will likely follow suit. Leaders should communicate clear expectations, provide their teams with the necessary resources and support, lead by example, participate in regular safety audits, and respond quickly to unsafe behaviors and conditions.
- Documentation of all identified hazards, audits, and corrective actions should be maintained for analysis and future reference. Poor document retention may reflect negatively during a regulatory inspection, while robust recordkeeping can indicate good-faith-efforts.
- Regular reviews of hazard identification procedures will keep them effective as long as employers adjust their approach when the workplace and its hazards change.
With the basics established, employers can explore effective hazard identification methods. It is inadequate to implement a single hazard identification method. Instead, all feasible methods should be considered and implemented, including:
- Regular safety walks to identify hazardous conditions, processes, and unsafe behaviors during work. This also allows employees and leadership to engage in the safety process together. Safety walks may be done individually but are best utilized when members of different departments work together.
- Job hazard analyses allow employers to examine each job function to determine what hazards exist and how they can be mitigated. Remember to update job hazard analyses when equipment and procedures change.
- Safety roundtables are an excellent way to make employees feel heard. Leadership should meet with employees and hear what they have to say about the state of safety in the workplace. It’s crucial that leadership document the topics discussed and keep employees in the loop with any actions taken based on their feedback. If action is stalled or cannot move forward, it must be communicated too.
- Incident investigations identify hazards that have already resulted in an injury or a near-miss event. Investigations are often under-leveraged opportunities where employers can eliminate proven dangers.
Identifying hazards in the workplace is crucial for any employer to protect their employees, reduce costs, and promote a positive work environment. Hazards can be identified through a range of effective methods. However, an effective hazard identification process requires a committed leadership team willing to engage employees, provide resources and support, and regularly review and adjust procedures.
Archbright members interested in learning more about hazard identification are encouraged to contact a safety expert at firstname.lastname@example.org or through mozzo Safety Advisor Chat.