Topic 3: Identifying Hazards, Assessing & Controlling Risks

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1 Topic 3: Identifying Hazards, Assessing & Controlling Risks This topic addresses the following performance criteria: 1. Develop procedures for ongoing hazards identification, and assessment and control of associated risks; 2. Include hazard identification at the planning, design and evaluation stages of any change n the workplace to ensure that new hazards are not created by the proposed changes; 3. Develop and maintain procedures for selection and implementation of risk control measures in accordance with the hierarchy of control; 4. Identify inadequacies in existing risk control measures in accordance with the hierarchy of control, and promptly provide resources to enable implementation of new measures; 5. Identify intervention points for expert OHS advice. Introduction Topic 1 focused on the requirements for organisations to establish and maintain an effective OHS system. Topic 2 explored the participative arrangements and consultation needed to ensure that the OHS system is supported by consultation, the management of issues and effective communication involving all managers and employees of the organisation. Every organisation must provide a safe and healthy workplace for their people and for visitors to the workplace. In this Topic 3, we will address the fundamental process to identify hazards, assess the related risks, and control those risks via the hierarchy of control. Organisations must: Develop procedures for hazard identification; Develop procedures for risk assessment and control; Incorporate OHS considerations into any workplace changes to ensure new hazards are not created; Develop procedures that enable the organisation to select and implement risk control measures in accordance with the hierarch of control; Maintain and update risk control measures to address any inadequacies; Support the provision of resources to execute hazard identification and risk management processes; Identify when expert OHS advice is required and access that advice at the appropriate level. Workplace Accidents Accidents occur in the workplace. They may be minor accidents, but others can be major accidents that may cause serious injury, disability to employees or employee death(s). As a result, the organisation will experience loss in a number of areas including: Loss of productivity as injured workers are unable to work; Loss of efficiency as production processes are delayed by the need to investigate and recover from a major accident; BSBOHS509A, Assignment, Version 2 Page 15of 33

2 Financial loss due to legal liability, increases in insurance, workers compensation commitments, and training and rehabilitation costs. The majority of accidents are caused by system failures or poorly designed work systems. Only a small number of accidents are actually caused by human errors. The nomination of human error as a cause of accidents in the workplace infers that an employee has made a mistake in the execution of their job role duties. Generally this can be linked back to an issue that that has arisen due to the employee s training or the role that supervision plays in the day-to-day activities of employees. Organisation must work with their employees to build a culture that is positive towards OHS. This in turn drives a higher level of focus in each individual employee and in the various teams and groups within the organisation. When an accident occurs in a workplace, the organisation needs to facilitate the reporting, recording and investigation of the incident. This includes those incidents that are classified as near misses. The investigation needs to research the cause of the incident and recommend changes or updates in the work practices or operations of the organisation to prevent a similar incident occurring in the future. Organisations must also notify the appropriate OHS authority in their Sate or Territory of: A dangerous incident or accident; An injury that causes an employee to miss 30 consecutive days of work or shift periods; An accident that causes serious injury; And of course an accident that causes death. This is a requirement under current legislation. Hazard Identification Many accidents in the workplace are actually caused by hazards. Hazards are defined as things that are likely to cause accident or injury, harm health or property. Organisations have a primary OHS responsibility to identify hazards and then act to control them, the main intent being to prevent accidents, near misses and injury in the workplace. There are 3 steps associated with the obligation to manage hazards in the workplace: 1. Identify the hazard (hazard identification); 2. Assess the risk (risk assessment); 3. Act to control the risk (risk management and control). Some hazards may be very obvious and are easy to identify (e.g. employees running electrical cords across the a walkway). Some hazards cannot be observed or easily identified (e.g. the use of chemicals in work areas may introduce a hidden hazard via inhalation). Other hazards develop over a period of time and may be difficult to observe while they are developing (e.g. wearing of electrical cords may develop over a period of time and may not be easily identified when the hazard starts to occur. Organisations may conduct safety audits that will facilitate the identification of hazards in the workplace. One may undertake audits simply by inspecting a workplace and completing a safety audit checklist. The checklist needs to be tailored for the specific work area or organisation. BSBOHS509A, Assignment, Version 2 Page 16of 33

3 Example of safety audit checklist: Office Area Safety Element Yes No Action needed First-aid kits Kits are fully stocked Employees can access kits Lights All lights are working Glare minimisation is in place Lighting is adequate Hygiene Common kitchen area is clean Toilet areas are clean Rubbish is in bins Washroom basins have soap Storage areas Lighting is adequate in storage areas Storage items are packed correctly Heavy items are stored on lower shelves Walkways Are clear of any obstructions Are even surfaces Are not used for storage Have adequate lighting Completing safety audit checklists ensures the audit process can be carried out efficiently and effectively. Formal procedure documents are needed to support the safety audit activity that is required by the organisation and to ensure that he appropriate personnel are able to comply with the organisation s expectations for this activity. Formally recording the results of the safety audit: Enables the organisation to address any areas identified as requiring improvement, Ensures that the audit activities can be reviewed by the appropriate delegate in the organisation, Ensures that a formal acceptance of the results and any resulting actions can be achieved. This process reflects consistency and integrity, as all safety audits within an organisation would be done using a standard approach, forms and tools. Statistical analysis may be performed to highlight areas that need to be reviewed and addressed. This gives the organisation an opportunity to take proactive action and concentrate on the aspects of the workplace that appear to be more harmful or present more risks to employees. Employees are required to report a hazard to their employer immediately upon its identification. Employers have a responsibility to take action to address the hazard and keep employees informed of the progress of the activity to address the hazard and manage the risk. BSBOHS509A, Assignment, Version 2 Page 17of 33

4 Risk Assessment Whenever a hazard is identified in a workplace, risk assessment must be performed to determine the risk associated with the hazard. This assessment is required to determine the likelihood of the hazard causing harm or injury, and also to determine the severity of the harm or injury that is likely to occur. In the context of OHS, risk is defined as the possibility that a hazard will have an adverse effect or impact on the health, safety, well-being of the employees or visitors to the workplace. Risk assessment is an integral part of an organisation s OHS system and organisations have an obligation to assess and manage risk once a hazard has been identified in the workplace For each hazard that has been identified, the Risk Assessment process needs to consider the following factors: 1. Frequency of exposure to the hazard; 2. Likelihood of the hazard to cause harm; 3. Severity of the harm that would be caused if the hazard resulted in an accident. The organisation must then consider the combined impact of these 3 factors. This will indicate the level of risk that is attributed to the hazard, which will then determine the actions that need to be taken to manage the risk. Most organisations will perform risk assessments by using and completing a risk register (or risk log), which enables them to allocate a grading, or level of significance, of each risk that has been identified in the workplace. Example of Risk Register: Hazard Frequency Probability Impact Priority Electrical appliance High High Very significant 1 Boxes in hall High Low Not significant 3 Risk Management Once a hazard has been identified and a risk assessment has been performed, organisations are required by law to take action to control and manage the risk that has been identified. The most common way to approach this is by the use of the hierarchy of controls, and the preferred order is as follows: 1. Elimination; 2. Substitution; 3. Engineering; 4. Administration; 5. Personal protective equipment (or PPE). BSBOHS509A, Assignment, Version 2 Page 18of 33

5 The preferred outcome when a risk has been identified and assessed is to remove the risk from the workplace (elimination). In most organisations however it is not possible to totally eliminate a risk. Therefore organisations must apply a process to reduce the risk associated with the hazard, and hence reduce the impact that the risk may have on employees or visitors to their workplace. If a hazard cannot be eliminated from the workplace, the organisation needs to seek to substitute it with a less hazardous alternative (substitution). For example, substitute dangerous cleaning chemicals with organic products that do not contain poisonous substances. If the organisation cannot eliminate the hazard or use an appropriate substitute, then they must undertake steps to engineer the hazard (engineering), and thus reduce the risk that employees are being exposed to in the workplace. For example: installation of high power ventilation systems to evacuate dangerous fumes. If it is not possible for a period of time to eliminate, substitute or engineer a hazard, administrative measures should be used (administration) to address the hazard condition and reduce the risk to employees and visitors to the workplace. For example: implementation of work instructions and procedures that reduce the possible risk in the workplace. As a final control, an organisation may provide PPE to its employees and visitors to the workplace. This would occur when no other method of control is practical for the organisation. For example: providing protective clothing to all employees and visitors to the workplace. This method would be regarded as the least reliable in the hierarchy of controls as it depends on individual compliance and relies on the behaviour of every individual in the workplace. Example of risk register Risk Priority Control Method Injury from factory machinery High Engineer installation of guards on machinery Reason for Method Unable to eliminate risk or substitute machinery Accountable Area, Delegate, Timeframe Production department, Factory manager, Within 7 days COMPLETE ACTIVITY 7 IN ASSESSMENT TASK DOCUMENT Organisational Change Organisations operate in highly competitive and dynamic marketplaces and there is a constant need for them to improve and change in order to remain competitive, retain good employees, increase market share and profits and maintain a positive organisational image. As a result, many workplaces undergo change on an increasing basis. Changes may be needed in the following areas: Policy & procedure changes to reflect changes in law or industry regulations; Product changes to reflect demand patterns or customer preferences; BSBOHS509A, Assignment, Version 2 Page 19of 33

6 Work practice changes to introduce increased efficiency or safety; New information technology systems to increase efficiency or enhance customer management techniques; Revised work practices to reduce cost and improve quality of output. There are many reasons why organisations will seek to change and improve their practices and the product or service offerings they have. While the process of change may be difficult to undertake for organisations and their employees on such a rapid basis, the impacts of not responding to change may be significant and include: Loss of talented employees; Los of customers; Reduction in demand for product or service; Increasing costs associated with core business activities; Non-compliance with legislation or regulations; Our-dated equipment or technology that results in increasing maintenance or replacement costs; Workplace accidents. It is good business practice for an organisation to plan and implement change to the organisation using an effective change management process. An important part of this process is the evaluation of the change and of any risks associated with the change. Because an organisation will invest time, money and resources into change activities, there needs to be a process to ensure that there is benefit to the organisation. Many organisations will undertake a formal evaluation of changes to ensure the costs are appropriate for the level of benefit the organisation expects to achieve, and also to ascertain the impact of the change on the employees of the organisation. Changes will be evaluated to ensure any legal or regulatory impact is identified and managed, to ensure ongoing compliance with legal obligations. From an OHS perspective, risk analysis must also be performed on changes to ensure that new hazards are not introduced to the workplace, and to ensure that the health, safety and wellbeing of employees are not impacted by the change. Taking a proactive approach to evaluating the OHS impacts of a change helps to ensure that the organisation is able to take action and avoid introducing a new hazard to a workplace as a result of a workplace change Review of Risk Management The risk management processes of an organisation should be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure they are effective and efficient. The review activity will usually be based on the reporting and monitoring that is in place within the organisation and needs to be conducted on a regular basis. The hierarchy of control provides the guidance to the organisation on how to best control a risk that has been identified as a result of the occurrence of a hazard in the workplace. This also enables organisations to review the control measures that have been implemented and determine if these can be improved. Over time, a risk control measure that has been implemented may be changed or improved to achieve a higher level of control or a more effective level of control of an identified risk. BSBOHS509A, Assignment, Version 2 Page 20of 33

7 The review of existing control measures in accordance with the hierarchy of control can result in a number of benefits for an organisation, including: More effective controls being implemented to better manage and reduce risks to employees; More cost-effective investments being made in up-to-date methods of control; Less reliance on control methods that rely on ongoing employee compliance or behavioural methods; Overall improvements to the effectiveness of the organisational OHS management system. Once an opportunity is identified for improvements in control methods, the organisation must act promptly to enable the implementation of a new control method. Financial, human and material resources may need to be allocated and deployed to enable the implementation of the new control measures. Additionally, the introduction of new control measures may require policy or procedural updates. These updates may then need to be communicated to employees and some employees may need to be trained in new work methods. This will ensure that employees understand the changes that are being implemented. In this context, the organisation should use a formal change management process to support the introduction of the new control measures. This enables the organisation to ensure that the appropriate resources are allocated to the change and the change is managed effectively within the organisation. OHS Advice The process of managing hazards and risks in the workplace may require the engagement of OHS experts for advice and direction. This expert advice will enable the organisation to achieve optimal outcomes in the provision of a healthy and safe workplace. As indicated in Topic 2, some organisations employ H&S officers who are experts in OHS. The organisation may use this position to provide advice on a range of OHS requirements. Other resources may be used to obtain this level of expert advice, including the following: Codes of practice provide practical advice on methods that have been used to control risks and reduce injury; Safety alerts are issued by the State or Territory OHS authority. They provide information that relates to significant incidents that have occurred in relation to OHS; Safe Work Australia provides guidance on OHS alerts and documentation related to each State and Territory; Unions generally have areas dedicated to OHS and can provide valuable information related to the management of hazards and incidents in the workplace; Industry groups and associations offer advice and information on OHS issues. Specialist advice may also be needed to enable the organisation to control risks and implement control measures. The organisation may require a specialist to undertake research and analysis in response to an OHS hazard that has been identified in the workplace. An important factor for organisations to consider when deciding on the engagement of specialists or seeking expert advice is to ensure that the organisation will gain practical and relevant advice that will enhance the effectiveness of the OHS management system. In particular, if the advice or BSBOHS509A, Assignment, Version 2 Page 21of 33

8 assistance is required for hazard identification and risk management, the organisation must be confident that the advice or assistance will be credible, appropriate and reliable. COMPLETE ACTIVITY 8 IN ASSESSMENT TASK DOCUMENT BSBOHS509A, Assignment, Version 2 Page 22of 33

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