Assessing Health & Safety Issues
To work safely you must have:
Knowledge about the hazards you might see at work, (or home or play).
Practical skills to avoid them or protect yourself from them, and the...
Ability to apply your safety skills and knowledge.
It is not enough to be responsible for yourself, you should also help those around you (co-workers, fellow students, etc.).
Three important steps to take when dealing with health and safety hazards
The first step is to know what a hazard is. Hazards can be defined as the potential of an activity or process which could result in:
- injury to people, or
- damage to equipment, structure, or property.
Categories of hazards include:
- Biological (molds, fungi, viruses, bacteria)
- Chemical (inhalation of dusts, fumes, mists, vapours, or gases, contact with toxic liquids or solids)
- Physical (noise, heat, radiation)
- Ergonomic (sprains and strains)
"Recognize" means that you should STOP to think how you will perform a task or how the job will be done BEFORE you do it. Go through all steps in your mind and figure out if there is a potential for injury. If you think there is some danger, DO NOT perform the task until you follow the rest of the RAC steps, or talk to your supervisor.
It is important to think about the hazards you have just "recognized". When doing the assessment step, questions to ask include:
- What do I know about this hazard or activity? How great is the risk?
- Do I have enough information to understand what the dangers are?
- Do I need to ask someone (parent or supervisor) for more information?
Control of a hazard can happen in a number of ways. If you're at work, control will be handled by the supervisor or employer. But, it is important that you know about these controls so you are able to recognize when something is "not right". At home or at a social occasion, you may need to ask for help if you cannot safely take control of the hazards yourself.
How can you "control" hazards?
At the source - Sometimes hazards are controlled where they occur. Examples include the use of machine guards (e,g., guards on a meat cutter), or using materials that are less hazardous.
Along the path - This method involves controlling the hazard before it reaches the worker. For example: ventilation to remove contaminants from the air, or using sound barriers.
At the worker - This method often involves having the worker wear personal protective equipment (appropriate to the hazard) such as hearing protection, safety shoes, or respirator.
To achieve the highest levels of safety in all areas of their lives, learners must possess knowledge about the hazards they encounter, practical skills to avoid them and have the ability to apply their safety skills and knowledge.
The ability to recognize potential hazards in the workplace requires observation, learning and experience. The message to the learners is ? REMEMBER: If there is any doubt about the safety of the materials you are handling or the duties of your employment, you have the right and the responsibility to bring you concerns to your supervisor's attention.
Ask the following questions:
- What are the dangers of my job?
- Are there any hazards that I should be aware of?
- Will I receive job safety training?
- Is there any safety gear that I'll be expected to wear?
Will I receive training in how to use it?
- Will I be trained in emergency procedures (fire, chemical spill)? When?
- Where are fire extinguishers, first aid kits and other emergency equipment located?
- What are my health and safety responsibilities?
- Who do I ask if I have safety questions?
- Do you have any safety meetings?
- What do I do if I get hurt? Who is the first aid person?
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