Identifying Hazards

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Identifying Hazards

A hazard is anything with the potential to cause harm. Sometimes hazards are easy to spot and have simple solutions — an icy stairway or a frayed plug on a kettle, for example. Other hazards are less obvious, and addressing them takes more creative thinking. For example, what could happen to staff or customers if there’s a robbery, an earthquake, or a fire?

Regardless of their complexity, the first step is to identify the hazards in your shop. It's best to take a systematic approach. For example:

  1. Inspect the worksite
  2. Use a hazard identification checklist when you do your inspection
  3. Look for new hazards when new equipment, chemicals or people are brought in
  4. Ask workers about the hazards they face
  5. Look at your first aid records. If there are patterns, talk to the crew and get to the root causes

For more detailed information on doing inspections and identifying hazards, please go the module on Hazard Identification.

Once hazards are identified, the next step is to size up the risk they pose. If hazard is the potential to cause harm, risk is the likelihood that a hazard will in fact cause harm. Identifying the level of risk will enable you to prioritize the actions you'll take in order to minimize the level of risk they pose for staff and the public.

Please click here for more information and helpful tools for sizing up the risks and controlling them.

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