When Should You Conduct a Hazard Assessment?
The first step to providing a safe working environment to your employees is to make a thorough and honest assessment of the fall hazards present in your workplace.
A simple hazard assessment can be completed in a day or less, and its positive effects can be felt for years. The effects can be measured in the health and safety of your employees and in accident-free days on the job.
A hazard assessment should be performed any place that work is being done. From building a multi-floor apartment building to setting up scaffolding for a restoration project or even repainting a school cafeteria, a hazard assessment should be done.
The Common Way to Perform a Hazard Assessment is to Assess the Following:
- analyzing the work being done
- the personnel performing the work
- whether there will be multiple companies performing work at the same time
- whether the work area is closed or open to the public
- if other standard work is being completed that is not associated with the project
- walking and working surfaces
- environmental factors
- tools and hazards associated with them
- access to the work area
- any chemicals and their storage
- the PPE needed to perform the work
Not only do you assess this at the beginning of a project, but anytime your environment or your work changes enough that hazards are either no longer present or new hazards become present is how frequent a hazard assessment should be reviewed.
Who is Responsible for Conducting a Hazard Assessment?
The Competent Person is the one who is responsible for conducting a hazard assessment. A Competent Person can be a crew leader or supervisor, but most often a Competent Person is a Safety Manager or the person on site with the highest level of safety training. In most cases the Competent Person conducts the training of the Authorized Persons on site.
OSHA Competent Person Requirements
OSHA defines a Competent Person as, “one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them”. 29 CFR 1926.32(f)
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) explains hazard assessment requirements in the following set of standards.
Hazard assessment and equipment selection.
The employer shall assess the workplace to determine if hazards are present, or are likely to be present, which necessitate the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). If such hazards are present, or likely to be present, the employer shall:
Select, and have each affected employee use, the types of PPE that will protect the affected employee from the hazards identified in the hazard assessment;
Communicate selection decisions to each affected employee; and,
Select PPE that properly fits each affected employee.
Note: Non-mandatory appendix B contains an example of procedures that would comply with the requirement for a hazard assessment.
The employer shall verify that the required workplace hazard assessment has been performed through a written certification that identifies the workplace evaluated; the person certifying that the evaluation has been performed; the date(s) of the hazard assessment; and, which identifies the document as a certification of hazard assessment.
Defective and damaged equipment. Defective or damaged personal protective equipment shall not be used.
The Malta Dynamics Hazard Assessment checklist offers a template for you to assess the fall hazards at your jobsite, so you’ll know where your workers are most likely to be in danger of a fall. Armed with this knowledge, you can engineer solutions to mitigate the risks, and train and equip your workers with PPE that will help to avoid serious incidents and injuries.
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