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This post gives some outline into hazard identification and the need to be aware of the some of the most likely contributing factors to workplace hazards:

An occupational safety and health program must include risk assessments that aim to prevent injuries and illnesses. A risk assessment process is composed of the following steps:

1) Hazard Identification
2) Risk Analysis and Evaluation
3) Risk Control

Cover All Categories of Hazards

During the crucial first step of a risk assessment (Hazard Identification) the assessor must be sure to cover both safety and health hazards equally. Some assessors focus more on safety hazards, but health hazards may produce an equal or greater risk of harm to workers. Here are some examples of safety and health hazards:

Safety Hazards:

Slips, trips, falls

Working at heights

Electrical hazards

Equipment and machinery operation

Fire protection

Health Hazards:

Chemical hazards (e.g. exposure to, and inhalation of, chemicals)

Physical hazards (e.g. noise, extreme temperatures)

Biological hazards (e.g. infectious diseases, bacteria)

Ergonomic hazards (e.g. heavy lifting, repetitive movements)

Psychological Hazards (e.g. stress, workplace violence)

Be Aware of the Main Contributing Factors

Being aware of the main categories and types of hazards allows the assessor to go one step further and become aware of contributing factors to hazards. These are the main contributing factors to consider:


Are they well trained and competent in performing the work?

Are they overtired?

What motivates them (e.g. speed or quality)?

Is there poor communication?


Are the equipment and tools provided appropriate for the task?

Is the equipment properly installed, inspected and maintained?

Are the manufacturer’s specifications being followed correctly?


What materials are being used?

Are the materials being handled, stored and disposed of properly?


Where is the work being performed (e.g. an office, vehicle, field, etc.)?

Does the work environment introduce any hazards? Factors include facility layout, ventilation, lighting, walking surfaces, weather etc.

Being aware of the main contributing factors of workplace hazards will significantly improve the hazard identification step of a risk assessment. Finally, risk assessments must be reviewed periodically to ensure that they are fit for purpose.

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