Hazard Awareness in the Workplace

What is Hazard Awareness

Hazard awareness is a repetitive learning behavior, especially in a construction environment. The well being of yourself and others depends on the awareness of potential and existing hazards. Through training and plan task observations we learn to identify and to be more aware of hazards. To be more aware of hazard awareness we should learn from others mistake to prevent by making ours. Hazard awareness is more of a pro active state of mind that a reactive state of mind.

A hazard is defined as “A source or exposure to danger” that can lead to injuries, illnesses or damage to property.

An accident is defined as “an unforeseen incident that happens unexpectedly or unintentionally resulting in damage or injury”.

Through training and experience you develop a state of identifying potential hazards and existing hazards. When you identify any hazards, immediate actions should be taken to eliminate or control the hazard before any injuries to employees or damage to property occur.

Types of Hazards:

  • Safety hazards – slips, trips, and falls; defective tools, poor equipment or machinery maintenance; missing guards on machinery and equipment.

  • Physical hazards – noise, weather.

  • Biological hazards – mold, insects/pests, communicable diseases.

  • Chemical and dust hazards – silica, air-borne vapor, cleaning products, asbestos.

  • Ergonomic hazards – improper lifting technique, awkward work position.

  • Work organization hazards – stress related – crowded or congested work area, exposure to noise for a long period of time or adverse weather conditions, working long hours.

A site-specific HIRA (Hazard Identification Risk Assessment) should be performed by a competent person before any work begins and a task-specific HIRA (Hazard Identification Risk Assessment) in particular work areas by means of a Task Hazard Analysis or another effective method. Plan the Work, Work the Plan! Identify all existing and potential hazards on site and your work area, then assess each hazard and make use of the Hierarchy of control to minimise the risk. A HIRA (Hazard Identification Risk Assessment) should be performed as often as necessary to identify and control the risks in the work area.

The Focus Four hazards in a construction environment are at the top of the list for potential injuries and account for 79% of all construction fatalities.

  • Falls (34%)

  • Electrocutions (11%)

  • Hit by – Struck By (24%)

  • Caught in and Caught Between (10%)

Before starting a task, ask yourself:

  • Is the environment you work in cleaned and organised?

  • Do I have all the necessary resources to conduct the task?

  • Are all resources in a good working condition to commence my work safely e.g. tools, equipment, machinery, etc.

  • Did I receive the relevant training to make use of my resources in a safe manner?

  • Are work procedures in place and relevant to my resources to conduct my work safely?

  • Are there any alternative ways to conduct my task in a safe manner?

  • Did I follow any other written procedures such as lock out and tag out?

  • Are the materials being used safe to work with?

  • Are there any alternative ways to conduct my task in a safe manner?

  • Did I follow any other written procedures such as lock out and tag out?

  • Are the materials being used safe to work with?

  • What type of PPE (personal protective equipment) is required?

  • Did I receive a material safety data sheet? Did a read through them?

  • Are all the tools and equipment equipped with the necessary safety guards?

  • Have I inspected my work area for other Hazards such as uneven ground or confined work space?

  • Are there any fall protection issues and have they been controlled?

Any task is different than the other and to ask yourself the questions mentioned above helps you to identify potential hazards and control them before it becomes an issue. When walking on site or in you work area be on the alert of any potential hazards. If you identify any possible hazards, make everyone aware of it. Report any unsafe conditions or unsafe acts to your supervisor immediately.

Be aware of your surroundings always, for an unforeseen event to take place there has to be potential. Negligence and taking every situation for granted are the leading cause of fatalities in industries. Improving in your awareness of potential and existing hazards will prevent you from any dangers or harm.

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