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FAQ: Information You Should Know About the Importance of a Risk Assessment


Being aware of the risk that lurks within your facility is the first and most important step on the path to a successful workplace safety program. A risk assessment is a process that will help narrow your vision in on the most threatening pain points in need of immediate attention.

Q: What is a Risk Assessment?

A: A risk assessment is a process that identifies hazards, evaluates the risk of those hazards, suggests solutions to control or eliminate the risk of those hazards and prioritizes the plan of where to start first, based on highest risk to workers.

Q: What is the difference between a job hazard analysis and risk assessment?

A: A job hazard analysis usually comes as a result of a risk assessment. While a risk assessment helps narrow in on the specific areas where risk is present in your workplace, a job hazard analysis takes those observations one step further, in a more detailed process to break down the hazards associated within a specific position.

Q: Why is it important to carry out a risk assessment?

A: A risk assessment when used correctly is very important to the upkeep of the safety protocols within a facility. It helps to create awareness of new or persistent risks, identify which workers may be at risk, and determines if current procedures are enough to control the risks that are present. If they are not, a risk assessment also helps in prioritizing which risks within a workplace should be addressed first.

Q: What is a risk assessment matrix?

A: A risk assessment matrix is used during a risk assessment to plot out the likelihood that a risk within a workplace will end in catastrophic and or frequent injuries. This is a good tool use when looking for an at a glance view of where the most threatening problem areas within your workplace are. The matrix usually rates risks based on the likelihood of a risk happening: Extremely Unlikely to Almost Certain, and what the potential outcome of that risk might be: Insignificant to Multiple Fatalities.

Q: How do I identify risk?

A: When performing a risk assessment work as a team and get as many workers involved as possibly without creating confusion or chaos. Having multiple sets of eyes may allow your process to catch more areas for potential harm that if it were performed by a single person. Have your “assessors” look at all aspects of work including non-routine tasks. Look at the data you already have available to you, such as injury and illness reporting and near miss records. Look at the way your workflow is organized, are there any bottle necks? Does your facility have varying levels of experience when it comes to workers doing the same job? Are there any unforeseeable circumstances or conditions that could impact the way work is done in your facility? Do you have a lot of visitors to your site?

Q: How do I Control the Risk?

A: Once you have identified and prioritized your plan of attack for righting your safety risks, when choosing a method for control refer to the Hierarchy of controls. Elimination, Substitution, Engineering, Administrative, PPE. It isn’t expected that your facility can completely eliminate all risk from the workplace, but you should be able to land on a solution that keeps your workers safe and while carrying out their duties.

Want to learn more about risks and hazard?: Work Hazards -vs- Risks, What’s the Difference?



TIPS: Working in Cold Weather Conditions


After a nice warm summer it is difficult to accept the reality that the cold and snow is back! Have you given your workers what they need to make it through the winter months without injury? Here are a couple of tips you may not have thought of.

  • Don’t be too much of a “man” to admit cold temperatures are very dangerous
  • Know the signs of cold stress and varying degrees of frostbite
  • Encourage workers who will be outside with little interaction to make regular check-ins
  • If you take medications know how the cold temperatures may interact with side effects
  • Before work and during breaks eat proper meals with carbs and fats for added energy
  • Insulation is key, make sure head, neck, hands, and feet are properly protected
  • Balance is the first step in productivity. Stay on your feet with anti-slip treads, careful walking and the use of handrails where available
  • If your workers don’t spend their day outside you still need to get them into the office safely, properly prepare all grounds around you facility to provide safe entry for all workers

Read more about winter weather safety!



GHS The Final Count Down: Shift from Right to Know to Right to Understand

Right to Understand

The right to know -vs- the right to understand: trying to figure out the difference? You won’t necessarily find it spelled out for you in any “official” OSHA documentation, but it could be the difference in whether or not your facility gets fined should an inspector come around.

The original HazCom standard focused around the workers’ “right to know” meaning that all workers had the right to proper training and information about any hazardous chemicals that they would potentially come in contact with. However this “right to know” leaves a lot open for interpretation. Just because workers are provided the information does not mean that is sinks in. In fact, OSHA has stated that “several studies show employees do not understand approximately one-third of the safety and health information listed on (MSDSs) prepared in accordance with the current HazCom standard.”

In updating the GHS standard, OSHA also sought out to not only make workers aware but also to ensure they fully understand and comprehend the safety procedures and information as it concerns the chemicals within their facilities.

When interpreting the “right to know” vs “the right to understand” consider this. An OSHA inspector may have checked to see if a company provided all of the proper MSDS informational sheets and that their training schedules were up to date to make sure that they were fulfilling their duty to their workers’” right to know.” However, now an inspector may come into your facility and could potentially quiz your workers to see if your company has met the threshold of a workers’ “right to understand.”

Again, while this is not clearly explained anywhere in the new OSHA GHS regulation, it is all up to the discretion of your inspector so it is best to make sure all of your workers clearly understand the new GHS procedures that have been implemented within your facility.

Learn More about GHS: Data that Proves Why GHS is Important



Workplace Safety News Roundup

Workplace Safety News

Keeping track of new OSHA regulations and taking advantage of supplemental safety training and reading materials makes a big difference in the success of the programs you implement in your workplace. Seeing what others are doing both for the better and worse help mold an all encompassing safety initiative. Here is a sampling of some of the news buzzing around workplace safety this month.

Serious Incidents Can Now Be Reported To OSHA Online

Employers can now report fatalities and other serious workplace incidents to OSHA via an online form. OSHA rules require employers to report to the agency within eight hours any incident in which a worker is killed on the job. Serious injuries, which include in-patient hospitalizations, amputations or losses of an eye, must be reported within 24 hours.

The Many Added Dangers Shift Workers Should Be Aware Of

It’s well documented that employees who work evening, night or rotating shifts face a higher risk of being injured on the job than those who work days. But a new study out of Canada has found that shift workers are also more likely to have a harder time recovering from such an injury as well.

Read More Here

The Walking Working Surfaces Rule Has Been Dropped from the Regulatory Agenda

OSHA has withdrawn from reviewing its final rule addressing slip, trip and fall hazards – potentially further delaying the rule’s finalization after more than two decades in development.

The Walking Working Surfaces and Personal Fall Protection Systems rule was pulled from Office of Management and Budget review on Dec. 21.

Read More Here

What Did Workplace Safety Look Like Before OSHA?

Pre-OSHA, safety was strictly an inside, do-it-yourself job. Every company that cared to developed, complied with and enforced its own safety standards. Safety was promoted with signs, posters, streamers, paycheck stuffers and movies. Free coffee, free lunch, and prizes were safety rewards.

Read More Here