Identifying hazards helps prevent incidents.

Being able to identify hazards in the workplace is a key to ensure that your workers are safe. The difficulty is to ensure that the method you use to identify hazards is user friendly.

A simple method to ensure that all hazards are identified is to divide the worksite into different aspects of work:

  • physical work environment;
  • equipment, materials and substances used;
  • work tasks and how they are performed;
  • work design and management.

To determine the hazards in each work area, the hazards themselves can be divided into common hazard areas:

  • Manual tasks;
  • Gravity;
  • Electricity;
  • Machinery and equipment;
  • Hazardous chemicals;
  • Extreme temperatures;
  • Noise;
  • Radiation;
  • Biological;
  • Psychosocial hazards.

These common hazards can be identified in the work area by implementing a workplace inspection. Regularly walking around the workplace and observing how things are done can help you predict what could or might go wrong. Look at how people actually work, how plant and equipment is used, what chemicals are around and what they are used for, what safe or unsafe work practices exist as well as the general state of housekeeping

You can also consult your workers. Ask your workers about any health and safety problems they have encountered in doing their work and any near misses or incidents that have not been reported.

Worker surveys may also be undertaken to obtain information about matters such as workplace bullying, as well as muscular aches and pains that can signal potential hazards.

Finally you may want review available information for example, risks relevant to particular industries and types of work is available from regulators, industry associations, unions, technical specialists and safety consultants.

Manufacturers and suppliers can also provide information about hazards and safety precautions for specific substances (safety data sheets), plant or processes (instruction manuals). Analyse your records of health monitoring, workplace incidents, near misses, worker complaints, sick leave and the results of any inspections and investigations to identify hazards.

If someone has been hurt doing a particular task, then a hazard exists that could hurt someone else. These incidents need to be investigated to find the hazard that caused the injury or illness.

By TCCI Work Health and Safety Specialist Craig Hortle

For information on how to achieve this please contact Craig Hortle or Janelle Whitehouse at the TCCI on 1300 559 122

For more information contact