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How to Combat Occupational Health and Safety Risks

For the safety of everyone in a work environment, health and safety risks in the workplace need to be effectively managed. This can be done either by eliminating the risks completely or reasonably minimising it when complete elimination is not possible. 

Why is Managing Health and Safety Risks Important? 

Effective management of workplace health and safety risks will protect your workers from workplace hazards that cause injuries and illnesses and provide workers with safe and healthy working conditions. 

How to Effectively Manage Workplace Hazards 

      1. Identify Hazards

This involves identifying all of the situations and things that are dangerous and can cause harm. It could be the physical conditions of the work environment or materials, substances, and equipment used in the workplace. It could also be a result of how work tasks are carried out, as well as management and design.

     2. Assess the Risks

To properly assess risk, you will have to consider how severe the harm that could be caused by the hazard would be and the kind of harm that could occur – for example, fatigue, muscular strain, lacerations, and burns. Can the hazard potentially cause serious illness, injury, and death or only nominal injuries? 

You should also consider the efficacy of the control measures currently in place – how work is done and the cleaning and maintenance processes in place. Also, don’t forget to assess the probability of harm occurring during a task and how often workers are in close proximity to the hazard. 

     3. Control Risks

The best way to go about controlling workplace risks is to put measures in place, ranging from high risk to low risk. That is, address the hazard that poses the most risk first. Listed below are some of the ways you can go about it

  • Eliminate: Completely remove the hazard from the site – For example, disposing of harmful chemicals, getting rid of trip hazards, and so on. This is by far the most practical control measure and should be the first choice before any other option is considered. 
  • Isolate: Remove the hazard from close proximity to people using barriers; this may include using place guards. 
  • Substitute:  Replace the hazard with something less hazardous – for example, using water-based paints instead of solvent-based paints. 
  • Invest in PPE (Personal Protective Equipment): Hard hats, earmuffs, gloves, masks, protective eyewear and other types of PPE are the last line of defence against occupational hazards. Please note, PPE does not alter the hazard itself, and its effectiveness is completely dependent on quality, use and maintenance.
  • Get Health Insurance: Even with the best health and safety measures in places, accidents can still occur. When this happens, ensuring you have personal health insurance ensures that the cost of medical care does not leave you out of pocket.
  1. Review your Control Measures 

To ensure that the control measures you have implemented work as designed, you will have to review them, and then revise if necessary.

You should consider reviewing your control measures of any of the following happens:

  • The control measure has not been effective in controlling the risk.
  • A new risk or hazard has been identified
  • Changes made to the work environment pose a different or new safety and health risk, which cannot be effectively managed by the measure in place. 
  • If a Safety and Health Representative requests a review



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