Topic 3

Hazard Identification, Risk Assessment and Control

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This topic covers hazard management, record keeping and evaluation and review as required under the legislation. The main focus is on hazard identification, risk assessment and control - the heart of any effective occupational health and safety system. Related areas are record keeping, evaluation and review.

You will identify the hazards encountered when working in the diving organisation. You will analyse your own hazard management workplace procedures and evaluate whether they are meeting the needs of the diving organisation. You are asked to identify record keeping requirements and utilise data in the review process. You will evaluate and review the OHS system with particular reference to hazard management and associated processes and provide recommendations for improvements.

By the end of this topic and on completion of the related activities, you should have developed a sound basis for evaluation and review of the OHS system and be able to implement appropriate recommendations for improving the OHS system for the diving organisation arising from the review process.

Hazard Identification

Hazard identification is at the heart of the OHS system. Recognising and reporting a hazard requires a conscious effort to be alert to possible dangers in the workplace, knowledge of what may constitute a hazard and commitment to taking responsibility for action.

A hazard may be defined as:

  • "a source of harm or a situation with potential to cause loss." (Australian/New Zealand Standard 4360:1999 Risk Management.)
  • "a source or a situation with a potential for harm in terms of human injury or ill health, damage to property, damage to the environment or a combination of all of these." (Australian Standard 4804:1997 Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems.)

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Risk Assessment and Control

Once a hazard is identified, the associated risk needs to be assessed and appropriate control measures selected and implemented. There are a number of methods for assessing risk, both quantitative assessments and qualitative assessments. Most commonly, qualitative risk assessments are made using judgements based on a person's experience and knowledge or preferably a risk assessment team's collective expertise.

Guidelines for the risk assessment process can be found from a number of sources, or the organisation may have its own risk assessment process. If not, an excellent guide to use for a qualitative risk assessment is the Risk Management Standard AS/NZS 4360:1999. This uses a risk matrix or table to categorise risk as either extreme, high, medium or low on the basis of likelihood and consequence.

Likelihood Insignificant Minor Moderate Major Catastrophic
Almost Certain H H E E E
Likely M H H E E
Possible L M H E E
Unlikely L L M H E
Rare L :L M H H

Once a risk has been categorised, a judgement can be made as to whether risk control measures need to be implemented.

The hierarchy of controls is a process for selecting a risk control measure which is the most effective within constraints of cost and practicability. Right click on the following graphic, then left click on play to see the components of the hierarchy of controls.

The concept behind the hierarchy of controls is that in selecting a risk control measure you attempt to select one from as high up the hierarchy as possible within constraints of cost, technology and acceptable risk. The best solution is elimination of hazard. Isolation is the next best solution, then substitution. Engineering controls are often a good way of controlling a hazard. Administrative procedures are commonly employed as they are cheap, but they rely on human compliance, so are not as reliable as other risk control measures further up the hierarchy. The least preferred method of control is personal protective equipment - again this relies on human compliance, which is notoriously unreliable unless heavily monitored.

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Record Keeping

Record keeping is a strict requirement of the various Acts and Regulations. While details vary, the most common record keeping requirement is that of injuries and incidents in the workplace. Serious injuries, incidents or deaths require notification to the relevant authorities.

Information, records and reports may be best stored electronically so that the data can be used to identify any trends or concerns that need to be addressed. It is important, however, to consider security issues for sensitive information such as personal injury or medical records.

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Evaluation and Review

An essential component of any effective system is the evaluation and review process. This needs to be carefully managed in any business, but possibly even more so in a diving organisation, since it is likely that there will be a number of remote employees working from a variety of workplaces. Once again, out of sight, out of mind, does not mean that these remote workplaces can be overlooked when evaluating the overall health and safety system.

It may be necessary to come up with innovative solutions to enable effective evaluation and review. Some possibilities are self assessments of personal health and safety practices, peer review where possible of OHS practices, and electronic or telephone conferences discussing the OHS performance of the diving operation.

Communication is the key to the consultative approach to health and safety. With the advent of electronic communication as a primary means of communication within many businesses, and the likelihood of primarily verbal communication over the telephone for remote or offsite diving operations, new and innovative ways of fostering a good communication climate are necessary.This provides the foundation for the development, maintenance and evaluation of the health and safety system to achieve the desired result of a workplace free of injury, disease and ill-health.

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