With workplace hazards rising and having a serious impact on workers’ health, organisations must be on their toes to address key hazards, implement regular risk assessments and assign control measures to eliminate or minimise hazards. Hence, hazard identification and risk assessment consequence of breach is crucial for organisations.
Effective risk management therefore holds paramount importance in the dynamic landscape of workplace health and safety (WHS). From identifying hazards to assessing risks and implementing control measures, this step-by-step approach not only safeguards the well-being of employees but also ensures regulatory compliance.
In this comprehensive blog, we delve into the critical stages of hazard identification and risk assessment, emphasising the significance of eliminating risks and minimising them as reasonably practicable.
We have also discussed forklift accidents and why it is a serious concern in Australia.
But before we get into the details of the process, let’s start with the basics of risk management and its benefits for businesses.
Risk management encompasses contemplating potential outcomes when individuals are exposed to hazards and assessing the likelihood of such occurrences. Hazards, in this context, refer to elements and situations with the potential to cause harm to individuals. This strategic approach involves systematically evaluating potential risks, aiming to proactively identify, analyse, and address factors that may pose a threat to safety and well-being in a given environment.
Managing WHS risks is a fundamental responsibility if you fall into one of the following categories:
- A person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU)
- A designer, manufacturer, importer, supplier, or installer of plant, substance, or structure
- An officer, such as a company director.
To navigate this process effectively, a systematic approach involves identifying hazards, assessing risks, implementing control measures, and regularly reviewing them.
Benefits of Risk Management
Engaging in risk management not only ensures regulatory compliance but also equips your business to respond adeptly to change and foster improvement. By eliminating and controlling risks within your workplace, you can achieve the following benefits:
1) Prevent Workplace Injuries and Illnesses:
Proactive risk management significantly reduces the likelihood of workplace injuries and illnesses, fostering a safer and more secure work environment.
2) Enhance Health, Wellbeing, and Capacity of Workers:
Prioritising risk control measures contributes to the overall health and well-being of your workforce, enhancing their capacity to perform optimally.
3) Improve Quality and Productivity of Work:
A safer workplace directly correlates with improved quality and productivity. By mitigating risks, you create a conducive environment for efficient and high-quality work outcomes.
Thus, by adhering to a comprehensive risk management approach, your business not only complies with WHS regulations but also reaps tangible benefits in terms of worker welfare, operational efficiency, and overall business success.
The Step-by-Step Approach
Here is the step-by-step approach to risk management:
Step 1: Identify Hazards
Hazards, in the context of WHS, encompass elements and situations that could potentially harm individuals. The initial step involves a thorough examination of the workplace to discern potential threats. Workers and their health and safety representatives play a crucial role in this phase, providing valuable insights that contribute to a holistic hazard identification process.
The hazard identification process is further broken down into the following steps:
1) Understanding Hazards:
- Hazards can take various forms, including physical elements, substances, processes, or situations that, if not properly managed, could result in harm or injury.
- Examples of hazards may include machinery, chemicals, ergonomic factors, noise, electrical issues, or any condition that has the potential to cause harm.
2) Comprehensive Workplace Assessment:
- The process requires a thorough assessment of the entire workplace, taking into consideration different work areas, processes, and activities.
- This assessment aims to identify potential sources of harm or danger that may not be immediately apparent.
3) Employee Involvement:
- Workers and their health and safety representatives play a crucial role in hazard identification. They possess firsthand knowledge and experience, providing valuable insights into potential risks.
- Collaboration with employees ensures a more comprehensive understanding of the work environment and potential hazards.
- The identified hazards should be documented systematically, detailing the nature of each hazard and its potential consequences.
- This documentation serves as the foundation for subsequent risk assessment and management processes.
5) Proactive Approach:
- The emphasis is on a proactive approach to identify and address potential risks before they lead to accidents or injuries.
- By recognizing hazards in advance, organizations can implement effective control measures to mitigate or eliminate the risks.
Step 2: Assess Risks
Undertaking a meticulous risk assessment is the linchpin of effective risk management. This process involves evaluating the severity of identified risks, the effectiveness of control measures, and determining the necessary actions to mitigate risks urgently. The goal is not just compliance but the creation of a workplace where risks are proactively managed, promoting the safety and well-being of the workforce.
Impact of Workplace Hazards on Employee Health
Workplace hazards can exert a profound impact on employee health, both in the short term and over extended periods. While the consequences are universal, it is crucial to understand the specific implications within the context of occupational health and safety in the Australian workplace.
1) Physical Health Implications:
- Injuries and Accidents: Exposure to hazards such as machinery without proper safeguards or unsafe working conditions can lead to immediate injuries, ranging from cuts and fractures to more severe incidents.
- Long-term Physical Conditions: Prolonged exposure to certain hazards, such as repetitive strain or poor ergonomic conditions, can contribute to chronic health issues, including musculoskeletal disorders.
2) Mental Health Implications:
- Work-Related Stress: Hazardous work environments, excessive workload, or insufficient support systems can contribute to heightened stress levels, potentially leading to mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
- Psychosocial Hazards: Workplace factors such as bullying, harassment, or inadequate communication can adversely impact mental well-being.
3) Respiratory Health:
- Exposure to Harmful Substances: Industries involving exposure to harmful substances or poor air quality can lead to respiratory issues. This is particularly relevant in sectors like manufacturing or construction.
4) Hearing Loss:
- Occupational Noise Exposure: Industries with elevated noise levels, such as construction or manufacturing, can result in long-term hearing impairments if adequate protective measures are not in place.
5) Occupational Diseases:
- Chemical Exposure: Contact with hazardous chemicals without proper protection measures can result in occupational diseases, affecting internal organs and long-term health.
6) Impact on Overall Well-being:
- Reduced Work Capacity: Employees facing continuous exposure to workplace hazards may experience a decline in overall physical and mental well-being, leading to reduced productivity and work capacity.
7) Financial Consequences:
- Healthcare Costs: Workplace hazards can contribute to increased healthcare expenses for both employees and employers, as injuries and illnesses may necessitate medical treatment and rehabilitation.
8) Workplace Morale and Job Satisfaction:
- Employee Morale: A hazardous work environment can negatively impact employee morale and job satisfaction, influencing retention rates and overall workplace culture.
Thus, employers and organisations must prioritise occupational health and safety measures, not only to comply with regulatory standards but to create a work environment that safeguards the well-being of employees. This commitment not only ensures a healthier and more productive workforce but also contributes to the overall success and sustainability of the business.
Forklift Accidents in Australia – An Overview of a Severe Hazard
Forklifts play a pivotal role in numerous workplaces across New South Wales (NSW), facilitating the lifting, stacking, and transfer of loads. Despite their utility, forklift operations pose significant risks, contributing to workplace deaths and injuries. The recently released Forklift Safety Report for February 2023 by SafeWork NSW sheds light on critical insights and provides a roadmap for businesses to enhance forklift safety.
Between 2017 and 2022, NSW recorded a concerning 1,538 forklift-related incidents, indicating the urgency of addressing safety measures. The predominant contributing factors identified in these incidents include:
1) Persons/Workers Being Hit by Forklifts:
- Highlighting the need for enhanced pedestrian safety and operator vigilance.
2) Inadequate Traffic Management:
- Lack of traffic management plans or processes for segregating plant areas from pedestrian zones.
3) Falling Objects:
- Resulting from unstable loads, overloading, or incorrect use of attachments.
4) Workers Being Ejected:
- Occurring during tip-overs or plant instability due to the absence of systems preventing operator ejection, such as not wearing seatbelts.
5) Unlicensed or Expired License Operators:
- PCBUs allow unlicensed operators with expired licenses to use forklifts, highlighting the significance of operator qualifications.
SafeWork NSW Forklift Safety Compliance Project
SafeWork NSW initiated the forklift safety compliance project in June 2021, with a hiatus due to COVID-19. In November 2021, the project resumed, focusing on key areas:
- High-risk work licenses
- Traffic management
- Forklift maintenance
- Seatbelt usage
- Appropriate use of forklift attachments
Consultation and Communication
SafeWork NSW prioritises communication and consultation, engaging with over 600 businesses across diverse sectors and sizes. Inspectors provided education and formal direction to more than 230 businesses, with over 400 businesses confirmed as meeting their obligations.
Actionable Insights and Recommendations
To bolster forklift safety, businesses are encouraged to implement the following systems, processes, and environmental measures:
1) System for Managing High-Risk Work Licenses:
- Prioritise proper licensing for forklift operators.
2) Regular Forklift Maintenance:
- Conduct regular maintenance by manufacturer guidelines.
3) Traffic Management Procedures:
- Assess, implement, monitor, and review traffic management procedures.
4) Competent Inspection and Maintenance System:
- Ensure forklifts are inspected and maintained by competent personnel.
5) Risk Identification and Control System:
- Develop a system to identify risks associated with mobile plants and implement appropriate controls.
6) Employee Consultation System:
- Establish a system for regular consultation with employees and their representatives.
7) Physical Separation Measures:
- Designate walkways to separate people from moving forklifts, incorporating physical barriers and well-lit areas.
Incorporate the following day-to-day actions to enhance forklift safety:
- Validate forklift operators possess high-risk work licenses.
- Enforce seatbelt usage for forklift operators.
- Ensure appropriate use of forklift attachments.
- Confirm stable loads and unobstructed vision for forklift operators.
- Follow manufacturers’ guidelines for forklift use.
- Adhere to traffic management plans and site safety rules.
- Mandate pre-start checklists for forklift operators.
By implementing these measures, businesses can actively contribute to a safer workplace environment, reducing the incidence of forklift-related incidents and prioritizing the health and well-being of employees. SafeWork NSW continues to collaborate with businesses through initiatives like the Manufacturing Safety Group, fostering a culture of proactive safety management.
Step 3: Control Risks
The overarching principle in risk management is to eliminate risks whenever possible, representing the highest level of protection. When elimination is not feasible, the focus shifts to minimising risks as reasonably practicable. The hierarchy of control measures guides this phase, ensuring that the most effective and reliable methods are employed to manage risks associated with specific tasks or environments.
Occupational Hazards and Corresponding Control Measures in the Accommodation Services Industry
In the accommodation services industry, the identification and implementation of tailored control measures are paramount to ensuring a safe and healthy workplace.
The following examples outline specific hazards and corresponding control measures, recognising that the list is not exhaustive and that measures should be customised to the unique risks within each establishment.
1) Manual Handling Hazard
- Modify the design or layout of work areas to minimize manual handling.
- Adjust workspace heights to reduce reliance on awkward postures.
- Redesign tasks, incorporating mechanical aids to minimize manual handling.
- Rotate manual handling tasks among workers to alleviate strain from repetitive movements.
- Provide comprehensive training on correct manual handling procedures.
2) Hazardous Chemicals Hazard
- Whenever possible, substitute hazardous chemicals with safer alternatives.
- Ensure proper labelling and correct storage of chemicals.
- Provide up-to-date safety data sheets (SDS) to all relevant personnel.
- Supply appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for workers handling chemicals.
3) Slips, Trips, and Falls Risk
- Regularly maintain floors and surfaces, addressing any damages promptly.
- Deploy non-slip mats strategically.
- Use warning signs to alert workers to wet or potentially slippery areas.
- Ensure correct storage and usage of equipment.
- Keep floors and surfaces clean and dry.
- Enforce the use of non-slip footwear among staff.
4) Work-related Violence, Aggression, Harassment, and Bullying Hazard
- Manage patron expectations and ensure adequate staff presence during peak times.
- Implement controlled access to the premises.
- Ensure well-lit internal and external areas for optimal visibility.
- Limit the amount of cash and valuables on-site.
- Eliminate dangerous objects that could be used for harm.
- Avoid solitary work; if unavoidable, provide means for workers to call for assistance.
- Display signage denouncing violence or aggression.
- Train workers in conflict resolution, escalation procedures, and incident reporting.
- Foster a positive, respectful work culture with zero tolerance for workplace violence and bullying.
5) Psychosocial Harm Risk
- Clearly define workers’ roles.
- Equip workers with necessary resources, information, and training.
- Regularly review workloads and time pressures with workers.
- Initiate regular check-ins with workers to address potential stressors.
- Support workers susceptible to psychological injury.
- Establish a point of contact for workers to express concerns.
- Cultivate a positive, respectful work culture with zero tolerance for bullying.
- Provide access to mental health and wellbeing support services.
6) Fatigue Hazard
- Provide machinery and equipment that are fit for purpose, incorporating ergonomic solutions.
- Design work tasks to minimize prolonged standing periods.
- Rotate physically demanding work tasks among employees.
- Thoughtfully schedule shifts, especially for work outside standard business hours.
- Ensure workers receive adequate rest breaks during and between working hours.
Step 4: Review Control Measures
A continuous cycle of improvement is essential in risk management. Regularly reviewing control measures is imperative to ensure they function as planned. This not only enhances the effectiveness of risk mitigation but also demonstrates a commitment to ongoing safety and compliance. The examples of the risk management process provided in the model Code of Practice serve as valuable references in this phase.
The Hierarchy of Control Measures
Elimination of risks is the pinnacle of effective risk management. However, when elimination is not possible, minimizing risks to a reasonably practicable extent becomes the focus.
1) Substitution and Engineering Controls:
- Substituting hazardous materials or processes.
- Implementing engineering controls to isolate individuals from hazards.
2) Administrative Controls:
- Introducing policies, procedures, and training to manage risks.
3) Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):
- Providing protective gear to reduce exposure to hazards.
This hierarchy is applicable across various industries and must be implemented where the elimination of risks is not reasonably practicable. Specific applications include remote work, hazardous atmospheres, manual tasks, falls, electrical work, and more.
Thus, the meticulous journey from hazard identification to risk assessment and control measures is not just a regulatory obligation but a strategic imperative for businesses committed to the safety and well-being of their workforce. By adhering to this comprehensive approach and the hierarchy of control measures, businesses not only mitigate risks effectively but also cultivate a culture of safety and responsibility, creating a workplace that stands as a beacon of best practices in WHS.
Steps to Select Suitable Consultants for Conducting Workplace Risk Assessment
When embarking on the crucial task of selecting consultants to conduct a workplace risk assessment, several strategic steps must be followed to ensure the engagement of qualified and competent professionals. While the process outlined below aligns with best practices for selecting consultants in a general context, it also takes into account the unique considerations relevant to workplace risk assessment in the Australian business landscape.
1) Define Assessment Scope and Objectives:
- Clearly articulate the scope and objectives of the risk assessment. Outline specific areas, processes, or projects that require evaluation. This foundational step sets the groundwork for identifying consultants with expertise in the relevant domain.
2) Identify Regulatory Compliance Knowledge:
- Ensure the consultants possess in-depth knowledge of Australian workplace health and safety regulations. Familiarity with the applicable laws and standards is essential for crafting assessments that align with legal requirements.
3) Evaluate Industry Experience:
- Assess the consultants’ track record and experience within your industry or sector. Consultants with industry-specific knowledge are better positioned to identify nuanced risks and tailor recommendations that resonate with your organizational context.
4) Check Qualifications and Accreditation:
- Verify the qualifications, certifications, and accreditations of the consulting team. Look for certifications relevant to risk management, occupational health and safety, and any specialized expertise required for your specific industry.
5) Assess Methodology and Approach:
- Review the consultants’ methodology and approach to risk assessment. Ensure they employ recognized frameworks and methodologies suitable for your organization. A transparent and well-defined approach enhances the credibility of the assessment.
6) Evaluate Communication and Reporting Skills:
- Strong communication skills are paramount for effective risk assessment. Evaluate the consultants’ ability to convey complex information clearly and concisely. Robust reporting mechanisms should be in place to facilitate comprehensive documentation of findings.
7) Consider Technological Proficiency:
- In the modern landscape, technology plays a pivotal role in risk assessment. Assess the consultants’ proficiency in utilizing advanced tools, software, and data analytics to enhance the accuracy and efficiency of the assessment process.
8) Check Client References:
- Request and thoroughly evaluate client references. This step provides insights into the consultants’ past performance, their ability to meet deadlines, and the overall satisfaction of previous clients.
9) Clarify Project Timeline and Availability:
- Clearly outline your expected project timeline and inquire about the consultants’ availability. Ensure they can commit to the required schedule and deliver results within the stipulated timeframe.
10) Discuss Cost and Budget:
- Have transparent discussions about the cost structure and budget. Understand the consultants’ fee arrangements, and any additional costs, and ensure alignment with your budget constraints.
11) Seek a Comprehensive Proposal:
- Request a detailed proposal outlining the scope of work, deliverables, methodologies, timelines, and costs. A comprehensive proposal demonstrates the consultants’ commitment and understanding of the project.
12) Contractual Agreements:
- Before finalising the engagement, carefully review and formalise contractual agreements. Clearly outline the terms, responsibilities, and expectations of both parties. Legal clarity is vital for a smooth and productive collaboration.
Why Choose Anitech?
Anitech’s experienced consults bring forth a wealth of expertise and tailored solutions to the forefront. With a proven track record in the Australian landscape, Anitech excels in understanding and navigating the intricacies of local health and safety regulations. The consulting team boasts industry-specific knowledge, ensuring a nuanced approach that resonates with the unique challenges of diverse sectors.
Anitech stands out through its commitment to regulatory compliance, holding a repertoire of qualifications and accreditations relevant to risk management and occupational health and safety. Our consultants leverage advanced methodologies and technology, enhancing the accuracy and efficiency of risk assessments. A transparent and communicative approach characterizes Anitech’s consulting services, fostering a collaborative environment that prioritizes client understanding and satisfaction.
Client references underscore Anitech’s successful track record, attesting to their ability to meet deadlines and deliver impactful results. The consultancy offers a comprehensive proposal, outlining detailed scopes of work, methodologies, and transparent cost structures.
By choosing Anitech Consulting, organizations align themselves with a partner dedicated to cultivating a positive, respectful work culture, ensuring workplace safety and compliance with the highest standards.
If you think, Anitech’s consultants fit into the bill, do call us at 1300 802 163 or e-mail – firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information, stay tuned to our website.