BSBWHS201 – Implement Work Safety Requirements
Identify Designated Persons to Whom Queries and Concerns about Safety in the Workplace should be Directed
Identify Existing and Potential Hazards in the Workplace, Report Them to Designated Persons and Record Them according to Workplace Procedures
Identify and Implement WHS Procedures and Work Instructions
Identify and Report Emergency Incidents and Injuries to Designated Persons according to Workplace Procedures
Identify WHS Duty Holders and their Duties for Own Work Area
In any workplace there are a wide range of potential hazards that you may be exposed to ranging from minor hazards through to potentially serious ones which may cause serious harm or even death. Hazards also range according to the type of workplace. Hazards may be found in almost every situation, other types of hazard are specific to certain types of industries.
Emergencies and hazards must always be reported to the designated person who will manage the incident. This could include:
1. Health and safety officers
2. Health and safety representatives
3. Managers and supervisors
4. Other persons authorised or nominated by the organisation
5. Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBUs) or their officers
6. Team leaders
7. Union officers
8. WHS inspectors
9. WHS permit entry holders.
Hazards come in many forms, and they don’t necessarily refer to those hazards that injure people. A hazard may cause harm to people, however a hazard may equally cause damage to property, processes, or the environment. You need to examine the hazards that exist within your workplace that could refer to any of these items.
Hazards found in almost all workplaces include the following:
• Sanitary facilities, i.e. toilets
• Mobility and access / egress – passageways, staircases, and exits should be clear of obstructions
• Any that are specified in WHS Acts, Regulations, and Codes of Practice
• Breakage and spillage
• Criminal acts
• Hazardous chemicals
• Hazardous equipment
• Hazardous work processes
• Needle sticks
• Sources of infection
• Unsafe work tasks or practices.
Other hazards depend more on the nature of the workplace, but can include such things as:
• Slipping / tripping hazards
• Fire (from flammable materials)
• Moving parts of machinery
• Working at heights
• Ejection of material (e.g. from machines)
• Pressure systems
• Biological hazards
• Electricity • Dust
• Manual handling
• Repetitive work.
A job safety analysis should identify all the potential hazards that exist for your specified job, at each stage of the process. The next stage in the process involves attempting to manage the hazards that exist within the workplace. Hazard management attempts to prevent anything from being a hazard, and generally involves one of three processes taking place. These are described in more detail below.
You will note that this process can only take place where practicable. You may find that some hazards simply cannot be effectively managed. Therefore you may need to look at the process itself to see if it can be redesigned in order to accomplish the task without the hazard being a major problem to those undertaking the work itself.
The Three Steps to Hazard Management
Where practicable, the hazard must be ELIMINATED
The best form of control is to eliminate the hazard altogether, e.g. by replacing a dangerous piece of machinery or hazardous process. This may involve substituting one piece of machinery or material for another, or by simply removing a hazard (for example, covering a hole). You will find that elimination is the primary goal of hazard management as it completely resolves any hazard issues that may exist. However this is not always possible. You may find, for example, that there is simply no way a process can proceed without a certain piece of machinery or material. In these cases it is necessary to carry on to ‘isolation’.
If elimination is not practicable the hazard must be ISOLATED
Protect employees from exposure to the hazard through physical means, i.e. barriers, closed rooms, guards, etc. This may seem like a ‘cop out’. In a sense, all you are doing is ‘hiding’ – however this is a very effective means of managing a hazard. If you are able to isolate a hazard, you can prevent it from causing harm or damage.
If it is not practicable to eliminate or isolate, the hazard must be MINIMISED
Where exposure to the hazard cannot be avoided, then the risk posed by the hazard should be minimised by means such as training and supervision, use of safety equipment and monitoring the employees exposure to the hazard. This is the least preferred method of hazard management, however there are cases when there is no other option but to minimise risk, rather than eliminate it completely.
The diagram depicted following outlines the hazard management process. Take some time to examine this process and ensure that you are aware of how hazards should be managed.
The Hazard Management Process
As a result of an extremely stressful workplace, a manager develops a stomach ulcer. A clerical worker who shares a room with a large photocopier develops dizzy spells due to the fumes and chemicals in the room. These are just two examples of what can be termed health hazards in the workplace. In general, health hazards may be physical, biological, chemical, or stress induced.
- Physical health hazards include noise, vibration, radiation, temperature extremes, and poor ergonomics. For instance, operating in a room with noisy equipment can impair an employee’s hearing. Exposure to radiation can make you more vulnerable to certain cancers and improperly designed furniture is a good way to strain your back and cause repetitive motion injuries.
- Biological hazards include bacteria, fungi, and insects that are associated with people’s health. Modern office buildings, which tend to be well sealed against the elements, are often an excellent breeding place for such hazards. There have been many examples where in new buildings employees have begun to feel sick, and the cause has been found to be microbes in the air conditioning system. Even something as simple as over watering your plants can encourage the growth of mould, which in a sealed workplace can be dangerous as they circulate around the building.
- Chemical hazards may be present in dust, fumes, or gases. As mentioned previously, some hazards – and this is particularly true of chemical hazards, can be carcinogenic (increasing the vulnerability to cancers). Examples of hazards that may be present in workplaces include lead, coal dust, asbestos, and benzene. People working in office environments may be exposed to chemicals from the carpeting and office equipment.
- Stressful working conditions may also harm you and other employees in your workplace. For example, employees may be more apt to suffer from stress related illnesses if their work requires them to take risks, witness suffering, or even endure an unpleasant supervisor.
Physical Workplace Hazards
A physical hazard is a condition in the workplace that may lead to an injury causing an incident. Common types of injuries can include cuts, burns, electric shocks, and broken bones. As previously mentioned, at their worst, workplace incidents can lead to death. In general, physical hazards arise from either personal behaviours (that is, unsafe acts performed by an employee) or conditions in the physical environment.
Personal behaviour is a major physical hazard; it refers to practices by managers and employees that create an environment in which accidents may occur. This behaviour may be as simple as drinking on the job. Sometimes you may find that you or other employees cause a hazard by not following correct safety procedures or using the safety equipment that has been supplied by management. By not wearing the right equipment you are placing yourself and others at risk.
Some employees are even thought to be incident prone – or more likely to have a workplace incident. These employees tend to act on impulse, without careful thought, and do not concentrate on their work. Many employees who have the most workplace incidents tend to have negative attitudes about their work or employer, and they find their work boring. Sometimes you will find even the most careful individuals can find themselves more vulnerable to incidents when other stresses in their life interfere with work.
Hazardous working conditions that can lead to incidents are as varied as having a messy workplace, electrical cords lying where people might trip over them, poor lighting, and a lack of protective features on equipment.
Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment
The process of identifying hazards and controlling them is central to Health and Safety legislation. The process is a four step process:
• Identifying Hazards: This involves recognising things which may cause injury or harm to the health of a person, for instance, unguarded machinery
• Assessing the Hazards: This involves risk assessment, examining and evaluating whether the hazard is significant, and the likelihood and degree of injury or harm occurring to a person if they are exposed to a hazard
• Controlling the Hazards: This involves taking all practicable steps to eliminate, isolate, or minimise significant hazards (as we have previously discussed) • Monitoring Any Exposure: Ensuring that the hazard has in fact been controlled.
Hazard Identification Techniques
All workplaces should have an effective method in place for the systematic identification of new, potential, or existing workplace hazards. Some of the techniques that you may adopt for this purpose include
• Task Analysis: A Critical Task Analysis itemises each step of the task pinpointing potential hazards. A clear procedure for safe task performance is outlined and documented in an easy to use format.
• Behaviour Analysis: Unlike task analysis, the emphasis in behaviour analysis is on looking at the behaviour of the employees. You are looking at the way they do their job, rather than looking at the job itself. Are workers wearing all required safety equipment, are they taking theirs and their co-workers’ safety seriously? Using behaviour analysis, you should be able to find any shortcomings in the behaviour of your employees which can then be changed and reinforced through training in specific areas.
• Environment Analysis: Again here the emphasis is on analysis. You are looking this time at the actual workplace itself. You are looking at the aspects of work environment that we discussed in the first section of this manual. Are light, ventilation, and temperature all adequate? Are these likely to cause any problems for the workers and how can they be overcome?
• ‘What If’ Analysis: This involves looking at a hazard from the point of view of ‘what if’ this were to occur. You would then use simulation techniques to attempt to establish whether or not any potential hazards exist. What if the machine overheated? What would this cause, and what types of hazards may exist if this happened?
• Fault Tree Analysis: Fault tree analysis is a method of using symbols and the like to work through the design of any system to determine where causes to major problems may be occurring. With a fault tree analysis, you start at the top level event (for example, a fire or chemical spill) and then work through all of the types of events that could lead to that top level event. They allow you to look at combinations of events that may occur that will lead to the event occurring.
• Incident Investigations: Whenever there is an incident in a workplace, causing harm, you as an employer must take all practicable steps to determine the cause of the incident and whether or not it represents a significant hazard. This is assisted by the fact that you must keep a register of all incidents in your workplace. Depending on the approach used and other factors, procedures may range from a simple checklist for a specific piece of equipment right through to a full investigation involving multiple departments. Where appropriate, the advice of specialist practitioners in health and safety should be sought.
Ensure that you are always aware of the WHS duty holders in your work areas and what they are responsible for doing. People who may hold this position will be specified in the WHS Acts and could include:
• PCBUs or their officers
• Other persons at a workplace.
As with any other aspect of business, there is a risk in health and safety. The hazards that you identified in the hazard identification program may never actually happen, or they may happen quite often. Therefore it is important to attempt to determine exactly what the risk of a hazard causing harm actually is. We looked at taking all practicable steps in the previous Element of this resource. Risk will assist you in determining exactly what is practicable and what is not. The higher the risk, the higher the consequences, and the more stringent your controls should be. Let’s look at the important aspects of risk assessment.
• Assessment of Probability and Level of Risk: The first stage of risk assessment is assessing the probability of harm actually occurring. There are many hazards in a workplace, and only a fraction of them will pose a significant risk of actually occurring on a regular basis. Therefore you should attempt to determine how often a hazard is likely to cause harm, and concentrate on those that are most likely to cause harm regularly if not controlled. These should have your attention for further analysis before all other hazards. It is a requirement that all hazards be controlled, however there needs to be compromise, as you cannot fix everything all at once. This is why risk assessment is so important. You work on those that will happen most often first before you attempt to control those hazards that are only likely to happen if a chain of events (however unlikely) occurs. This level of risk assessment is usually best undertaken using experience. Discuss matters with employees who are experienced in the area, and determine what is most likely to happen using your own and your workers’ experience.
• Consequences: The second major risk factor that must be considered is what are the consequences of a certain hazard should it occur. You need to balance the chance of something occurring with the consequences should it actually occur. Those hazards that will cause serious harm should be dealt with ahead of any matters that will only cause minor harm.
After your analysis you should have ranked hazards and they should be dealt with in approximately this order:
• Hazards that may occur regularly and cause serious harm
• Hazards that will occur rarely and cause serious harm
• Hazards that may occur rarely that will cause harm.
As in all cases, it is important that any reports that you create, or documents that you use to record hazards and manage controls, are in line with your organisation’s standards. In the assessment for this unit you must be sure that everything that you do is in line with organisational requirements. This assists in ensuring consistency between documents throughout your organisation. Your manager or health and safety personnel should be able to provide you with the required information with regard to documentation.
• There are a wide range of potential hazards in the workplace, ranging from those that are relatively minor through to potentially serious ones. Hazards also range according to the type of workplace. Some hazards are found in almost every situation, others are specific to certain types of industries. It is important that you are able to identify those hazards that apply to your workplace.
• Examples of potential hazards include:
• Hazards must, wherever possible, be eliminated. If this is not practical they should be isolated. If this is not possible they should be minimised.
• Be sure you are aware of your organisation’s procedures for an emergency. This is particularly true of fires, where there should be a specific set of procedures that you must follow.