Table of Contents:

Hazards and Risk

A hazard is defined as a condition, event, or circumstance that could lead to or contribute to an unplanned or undesirable event. Seldom does a single hazard cause an accident or a functional failure. More often, an accident or operational failure occurs as the result of a sequence of causes. A hazard analysis will consider system state, for example, operating environment, as well as failures or malfunctions.

While in some cases, safety or reliability risk can be eliminated, in most cases, a certain degree of risk must be accepted. In order to quantify expected costs before the fact, the potential consequences and the probability of occurrence must be considered. Assessment of risk is made by combining the severity of consequence with the likelihood of occurrence in a matrix. Risks that fall into the "unacceptable" category (e.g., high severity and high probability) must be mitigated by some means to reduce the level of safety risk.

Hazard Analysis

Hazard analysis is the process of identifying hazards related to a project, process, or activities at the work site. Identify the workplace hazards before determining how to protect employees. In performing work site analyses, consider not only hazards that currently exist in the workplace but also those hazards that could occur because of changes in operations or procedures or because of other factors, such as concurrent work activities. First, perform hazard analyses of all activities or projects prior to the start of work, determine the hazards involved with each phase of the project, and perform regular safety and health site inspections.

Secondly, require supervisors and employees to inspect their workplace prior to the start of each work shift or new activity, investigate accidents and near misses, and analyze trends in accident and injury data.

When performing a hazard analysis, all hazards should be identified. This means conducting comprehensive baseline work site surveys for safety and health and periodic comprehensive updated surveys. It is important to analyze planned and new facilities, processes, materials, and equipment, as well as perform routine job hazard analyses. This also means that regular site safety and health inspections need to be conducted so that new or previously missed hazards and failures in hazard controls are identified.

A hazard reporting/response program should be developed to utilize the employees' insight and experience in safety and health protection. The employees' concerns should be addressed, and a reliable system should be provided whereby employees, without fear of reprisal, may notify management personnel about conditions that appear hazardous. These notifications should receive timely and appropriate responses, and the employees should be encouraged to use this system.

Another way to maintain a hazard analysis is to investigate accidents and near-miss incidents so that their causes and means for their prevention are identified. By analyzing injury and illness trends over a period of time, patterns with common causes can be identified and prevented.

Each company may require different types of hazard analyses, depending on the company's role, the size, the complexity of the work site, and the nature of associated hazards. Management may choose to use a project hazard analysis, a phase hazard analysis, and/ or job safety assessment.

A project hazard analysis (preliminary hazard analysis) should be performed for each project prior to the start of work and should provide the basis for the project-specific safety and health plan. The project hazard analysis should identify the following:

  • • The anticipated phases of the project.
  • • The types of hazards likely to be associated with each anticipated phase.
  • • The control measures necessary to protect site workers from the identified hazards.
  • • Those phases and specific operations of the project for which activities or related protective measures must be designed, supervised, approved, or inspected by a registered professional engineer or competent person.
  • • Those phases and specific operations of the project that will require further analyses are those that have a complexity of the hazards or unusual activities involved; there is uncertainty concerning the site conditions that are present at the particular time to complete the phase or operation.

A phase hazard analysis may be performed for those phases of the project for which the project hazard analysis has identified the need for further analysis, and for those phases of the project for which methods or site conditions have changed since the project hazard analysis was completed. The phase hazard analysis is performed prior to the start of work on that phase of the project and is expanded, based on the results of the project hazard

analysis, by providing a more thorough evaluation of related work activities and site conditions. As appropriate, the phase hazard analysis should include the following:

  • • Identification of the specific work operations or procedures
  • • An evaluation of the hazards associated with the specific chemicals, equipment, materials, and procedures used or present during the performance of that phase of work
  • • An evaluation of how safety and health has impacted any changes in the schedule, work procedures, or site conditions that have occurred since the performance of the project hazard analysis needs to be completed
  • • Identification of specific control measures necessary to protect workers from the identified hazards
  • • Identification of specific operations for which protective measures or procedures must be designed, supervised, approved, or inspected by a registered professional engineer or competent person

A job safety assessment or analysis should be performed at the start of any task or operation. The designated competent or authorized person should evaluate the task or operation to identify potential hazards and determine the necessary controls. When conducting any evaluation of hazards, work procedures, or processes. The unexpected should always be a possibility and a problem solving opportunity.

In addition, the authorized person shall ensure that each employee involved in the task or operation is aware of the hazards related to the task or operation and of the measures or procedures that he/she must use to protect himself/herself. Note: The job safety assessment is not intended to be a formal, documented analysis but, instead, is more of a quick check of actual site conditions and a review of planned procedures and precautions.

Hazard analysis can get sophisticated and go into much detail. Where the potential hazards are significant and the possibility for trouble is quite real, such detail may well be essential. However, for many processes and operations—both real and proposed—a solid look at the operation or plans by a variety of affected people may be sufficient.

Analysis often implies mathematics, but calculating math equations is not the major emphasis when attempting to address hazards or accidents/incidents that occur within the industry. Analysis in this context means taking time to examine systematically the work site's existing or potential hazards. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways.

However, if the company is faced with fairly sophisticated and complex risks with a reasonable probability of disaster if things go wrong, then the company may want some help with some of the other hazard analysis methodologies. What follows is a very brief look at the common ones. If the company decides to try one of the more complex approaches, check with the local Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) consultation office or call an engineering firm that specializes in hazard analysis.

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