When was the last time you reviewed and updated your hazard assessment?

Hazard assessment or Job Hazard Assessment (JHA) is the foundation of a strong H&S program. Further, hazard assessment helps you understand the following key facts as an employer:

  • Tasks assigned to each employee.
  • Various tools used by each employee.
  • The work environment for your employees.
  • Risks posed by each of the above factors.
When did you last do a Hazard Assessment?

When did you last do a Hazard Assessment?

Is it important to find the correct model for understanding risk analysis for effective hazard analysis?

Finding the correct model to understand risk analysis is crucial. Moreover, this depends largely on your industry. In fact, you need to determine the type of controls that you need to put in place to:

  • Effectively mitigate the risk of each activity.
  • Be able to measure effectiveness of the controls you put in place to determine if they mitigate the risk.

Thus, the model you choose for risk analysis plays a big role in effective hazard assessment.

When was the last time you communicated your hazard assessment to your employees?

Simply reviewing and updating your hazard assessment is not good enough. In fact, you need to communicate the same to your employees. Here’s a court case that illustrates the significance of reviewing, updating, and communicating your hazard assessment to your employees. Let’s look into the background of the case for deeper insights.

Courts fined a Windsor contracting company $75,000 after a worker suffered critical injuries

CMF Group Inc., a Windsor-based company, provides millwrighting, rigging, and general contractor services to its clients. The company was installing new milling machines at Service Mold + Aerospace Inc.’s Windsor plant. On the day of the incident, a beam that was being lifted into the air lost balance and slid, striking a worker of CMF Group Inc. Therefore, the courts fined CMF Group Inc. $75,000 after a worker sustained critical injuries owing to the incident.

What exactly happened?

Using two 20-ton overhead cranes, the staff of CMF Group Inc. was installing the second of two new milling machines at the client site. Moreover, the rigging comprised a horizontal I-beam, which is used as a spreader bar, hoisted by the two cranes.

The workers were operating the two cranes independent of each other. Further, the company did not synchronize the two remote controls to ensure that they work in tandem, which would help largely in controlling their speeds.

As the workers were lifting the milling machine in this manner, one of the two cranes started moving up faster than the other one. Consequently, this caused the horizontal spreader beam between them to lose its balance since one end of the beam was higher than the other. Thus, the beam slid and fell, striking a worker standing on a part of the machine, knocking the worker down to the floor. As a result, the worker suffered critical injuries.

What did the Ministry of Labour investigation reveal?

After the incident, the company reported the critical injury to the Ministry of Labour (MOL) who came in for an investigation. Based on the investigation, the MOL inspector determined the following two very vital facts pertaining to the incident:

  • The cranes had with anti-collision sensors that would help prevent them or their loads from operating within five feet of each other.
  • The crane’s operator manual clearly states that the responsibility of ensuring that all sensors and reflectors are kept completely clean and in good working condition at all times vests with the customer.
  • The MOL inspector found the anti-collision sensors on the cranes covered up, and that the sensors did not activate. (Source: MOL Court Bulletin)

What were the sections under which the court charged CMF Group Inc.?

Violated section 25(1)(c) of the OHS Act

The court found CMF Group Inc. guilty of violating section 25(1)(c) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). The section requires that an employer shall ensure that the prescribed measures and procedures are complied with. (Source: MOL Court Bulletin)

Failed to comply with the section 93(3) of the Ontario Regulation for Construction Projects (O. Reg. 213/91)

The company violated section 93(3) of the Ontario Regulation for Construction Projects (O. Reg. 213/91). The section prescribes that employers shall use all vehicles, machines, tools, and equipment in accordance with any operating manuals issued by the manufacturers. (Source: MOL Court Bulletin)

CMF Group Inc. failed as an employer to ensure that all the measures and procedures prescribed under section 93(3) of the Regulation for Construction Projects were complied with. This is contrary to the requirements of section 25(1)(c) of the OHS Act. Moreover, this is an offence under section 66(1) of the OHS Act. (Source: MOL Court Bulletin)

What can a company do now to mitigate the risk of such incidents repeating?

Can you ever bring risk down to zero?

No company can every bring down risk to zero. However, it can mitigate the occurrence of such risks through having proper policies and procedures. That said, is just having proper policies and procedures enough? The answer is no. In fact, a company needs to also communicate the policies and procedures to all its employees. Further, it needs to ensure that they employees have reviewed and acknowledged the company’s policies and procedures.

It is crucial to understand that the link between policies & procedures and the job hazard assessment. In fact, a well-defined and detailed job hazard assessment allows to draft clear and effective policies and procedures. It is ideal for the policies & procedures to flow from the job hazard assessment. You have to review your job hazard assessment whenever there’s a process change, change in machinery, production related changes, or when you have an incident.

What does a company need to do in the given circumstances, going forward?

In simple words, a company needs to review and update its hazard assessment, and communicate it to its employees. This will help its employees largely in understanding the hazards associated with their tasks much better. Thus, its workers, employees, supervisors, managers, and all the key workplace parties will get into a habit of ensuring that they perform tasks as per the flow diagram shown in the hazard assessment. This will help the company in working towards ensuring strong adherence to policies and procedures. All this helps in working towards a safety culture.

What is an effective way to communicate updates on hazard assessment?

There are many ways in which a company can communicate updates on hazard assessment. However, one of the easiest ways for a company to communicate the updates on hazard assessment to its employees is by using an online safety training and management system such as 4SafeCom™. The best part is that an online system such as 4SafeCom™ allows you to get your employees to review and acknowledge your job hazard assessment. This is crucial from a due diligence point of view. Moreover, you can integrate your job hazard assessment with 4SafeCom™. Thus, the system will auto assign trainings to the employees based on the risks identified in your hazard assessment. You can obviously assign more trainings manually as well using the system based on your industry’s requirements.

Prudent companies working towards a sustainable workplace safety culture will review their job hazard assessment periodically to check its effectiveness. Apart from being a strong point for due diligence, this helps builds a safety culture, provided the company communicates the review of job hazard assessment to all the relevant workplace parties.

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