Updated: Jun 7, 2022
How does your company measure safety performance? Do you measure safety as the absence of injuries or the reduction of risk? One accident and your company can be faced with elevated worker’s-comp premiums and OSHA fines if the safety solution is not designed and implemented correctly. The correct approach is to conduct a safety risk assessment and see where any safety issues may arise.
Risk, by definition, is defined as the chance or likelihood that someone or something could be hurt or ruined by an unidentified or careless hazard.
Simply put, a safety assessment is a thorough examination of what, in your workplace, could cause harm or damage to people, property or the environment. You can then decide if you have taken enough safety measures to prevent any harm or damage from happening.
"Risk management is a more realistic term than safety. It implies that hazards are ever-present, that they must be identified, analyzed, evaluated, and controlled or rationally accepted." – Jerome F. Lederer
What does a safety assessment consist of?
This process includes a thorough inspection of the work environment, equipment, and systems to determine potential hazards and implement safety systems to prevent injury. Since each workplace is unique, your safety team should always tailor the safety risk assessment based on unique conditions on-site.
How often do I need a safety assessment?
How often you need a safety assessment depends on several factors. If you notice any potential hazards, you should immediately perform a safety assessment. You should also get a new assessment any time you purchase new machines or new processes. You should also have periodic safety assessments to ensure your machines are compliant.
No one has been injured in our company. Do we still need a safety assessment?
You should never wait until someone gets injured to have a safety assessment. The purpose of safety is to prevent injuries from happening in the first place. If someone does get injured on the job, report it immediately to management. During the accident investigation it may be a good time to get a safety assessment immediately. You may think your operations are fine but identifying risks before they cause injury will save you time and money in the long run.
After getting a safety assessment, do we have to fix everything on the list?
Your safety assessment may uncover a wide range of risks in your workplace. While you are not legally required to fix everything immediately, it is necessary to create a safety action plan and timeline that addresses all issues identified by the assessment. Some businesses choose to correct everything at once while others choose to correct issues in phases. After your safety assessment, a safety professional can help you understand the risk factors found, so you can mitigate your safety dilemma. Make sure you don’t drag your feet on this. Complete this task as soon as possible.
I just bought a new machine. Doesn't it come properly guarded?
Many machines sold today do not come with the safeguards required for you to be compliant. Manufacturers are under no obligation to meet OSHA standards on the products they sell. Once you take ownership of the machine, according to Machinery and Machine Guarding, OSHA standard 1910.212 talks about the criteria of machine guarding and anchoring fixed machinery. An effective safety assessment can determine the right safeguard specific for your machine.
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