What is hazard identification?

Boards must identify reasonably foreseeable hazards that could give rise to risks to health and safety in the workplace/school environment. Identifying hazards rising from work activities involves finding things and situations that could potentially cause harm to people. 

Hazards generally arise from the following aspects of work and their interaction:

  • physical work environment
  • work tasks and how they are performed
  • equipment, materials and substances used
  • work design and management
  • people’s behaviour in the workplace

The hazard identification process could involve

  • The principal with health and safety reps or committee members inspecting the workplace – regularly walking around the workplace and observing how things are done can help you predict what could or might go wrong.
  • The principal on behalf of the board consulting with workers – working closely with workers and looking at every task in the workplace will assist in finding potential hazards.
  • The board analysing principal reports of health monitoring, workplace incidents including near misses, worker complaints, sick leave and the results of any inspections and investigations to identify hazards.

Examples of common hazards

Here are some examples of common hazards arising from work activities and their potential harm:

  • Falling objects, falls, slips and trips of people – bruises, lacerations, dislocations, fractures, concussion, permanent injuries or death
  • Vehicles, plant, machinery, equipment – bruises, lacerations, dislocations, fractures, concussion, permanent injuries or death
  • Repetitive movement (e.g. data entry, lifting children) – muscular strain, occupational overuse syndrome (OOS)
  • Biological (bacteria, viruses) – e.g. leptospirosis
  • Loud noise (from power tools in technology classes or children’s noise levels) – permanent hearing damage
  • Bullying in the workplace – stress-related illness
  • Hazardous substances – burns, skin conditions, respiratory problems
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