One of the “root causes” of workplace injuries, illnesses, and incidents is the failure to identify or recognize hazards that are present, or that could have been anticipated. A critical element of any effective safety and health program is a proactive, ongoing process to identify and assess such hazards.
To identify and assess hazards, employers and workers:
- Collect and review information about the hazards present or likely to be present in the workplace.
- Conduct initial and periodic workplace inspections of the workplace to identify new or recurring hazards.
- Investigate injuries, illnesses, incidents, and close calls/near misses to determine the underlying hazards, their causes, and safety and health program shortcomings.
- Group similar incidents and identify trends in injuries, illnesses, and hazards reported.
- Consider hazards associated with emergency or nonroutine situations.
- Determine the severity and likelihood of incidents that could result for each hazard identified, and use this information to prioritize corrective actions.
Some hazards, such as housekeeping and tripping hazards, can and should be fixed as they are found. Fixing hazards on the spot emphasizes the importance of safety and health and takes advantage of a safety leadership opportunity. To learn more about fixing other hazards identified using the processes described here, see “Hazard Prevention and Control.”