Ideally your workplace would be free from hazards.
The reality, however, is that hazards are present in many jobs. As a business owner, you are responsible to control those hazards so that they do not result in injury or loss.
Health hazards vs. safety hazards
Hazards come in two forms:
- Health hazards may endanger a worker’s physical health. They may take time to show an impact.
- Safety hazards could cause bodily injury or property damage. They often have an immediate impact.
Examples of health hazards:
- Chemical: Includes any form of chemical, such as compressed gases, solvents, and lead
- Physical: Includes noise, vibration, heat, cold, and radiation
- Ergonomic: Includes design of the workplace and jobs that involve repetition, force, and posture
- Biological: Includes organisms or toxic substances produced by living things that can cause illnesses or disease in humans, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, and insects
Examples of safety hazards:
- Machine: Includes hazards from moving parts like rotating shafts, belts, pulleys, blades, and saws
- Energy: Includes pneumatic or hydraulic pressure, steam, heat, and electricity
- Material Handling: Includes manual and mechanical handling—lifting, lift trucks, conveyors
- Work Practices: Working unsafely, as a result of either safe work practices not being in place or failure to follow them
Five key factors can contribute to creating hazards:
- People: Action, or lack of action, can create workplace hazards. Knowledge and training is critical to avoid unsafe behaviours. Solid leadership that puts health and safety top of mind can help ensure safe work practices and procedures are followed.
- Equipment: Tools and machines can be hazardous. Look for unsafe or unhealthy conditions, such as inadequate guarding or barriers; defective tools and equipment; incorrect tools and equipment for the job; or inadequate warning systems.
- Materials: Some materials, such as hazardous chemicals, pose a hazard in and of themselves. In other cases, handling materials improperly or using the wrong material for the task can pose a hazard.
- Environment: Some hazards are created by the work environment. Look for things like the condition of all work surfaces and walkways, overcrowding, poor ventilation, poor lighting, extreme temperatures or noise, or poor housekeeping.
- Process: Process involves a combination of people, equipment, materials, and environment. It includes design, organization, pace, and type of work. By-products created by the process may be hazards, such as heat, noise, dust, vapours, fumes, and scrap materials.