By Jim Poage
Safety is one of those things that everyone believes in. No one wants to see an employee injured or worse, killed. The goal of every manager, supervisor, or business owner is to make sure that people go home in the same condition that they were in when they reported to work. This is where the business of safety begins.
Safety goes far beyond just telling people to be safe on the job. OSHA says in paragraph 5(a)(1) of the OSHA Act that it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that the workplace is free of recognized hazards that could cause serious injury or fatalities. That means there are certain steps required by the employer to keep an employee safe and show that the employer is doing the right thing to comply with OSHA regulation.
One of these steps is the job hazard assessment. The Job Hazard Assessment is when an employer or safety person observes a job being performed. They record the steps that the employee goes through to complete the task, and document obvious hazards along with actions to take to control the hazard.
While this would seem simple in the beginning the next steps become a bit more specialized and may require the assistance of a safety professional. Based on the hierarchy of risk control, the employer or their safety person would need to consider what the most effective step would be regarding control of the hazard. Would it be feasible to engineer the hazard out of the task, or eliminate it completely? Would it be possible to control the hazard through an administrative control to reduce the exposure to the hazard to a safe level? Or as a last option, would it be acceptable to use personal protective equipment to protect the employee? These are all things that a safety professional can help a manager or employer resolve when looking at the job function.
Along with identifying the hazards comes training. Employers must train employees on how to recognize the hazard, how to safely work around the hazard, and how to properly protect themselves from the hazard. Once you have identified the hazard, trained your employees regarding the hazard, and provided them with any necessary equipment to do the job safely, you’ve taken the first step in protecting your business and protecting your employees.