California employers are required by law to provide a safe and healthy workplace for their employees.  Failure to do so can not only threaten life or health of workers it can cost employers in substantial monetary penalties.  Even though most employers are conscientious in their safety efforts, workplace hazards can still arise.  One way to monitor work site risks is to conduct a site safety survey.  The site survey can also help evaluate the effectiveness of your safety program including training, understanding or following rules and regulations, and worker responsibility or accountability.

Hazards can be present or surface in any work activity.  The can be created by physical, biological or chemical factors in the workplace or by the misuse of materials and equipment by workers.  Sometimes hazards are inadvertently created by management practices such as inadequate training or improper personal protection equipment provided.  It’s important for employers and employees to be aware of any inherent or potential risks at the work site so they can be corrected before an accident or injury occurs.

A site safety survey serves several benefits.  The primary benefit is that it enables you to identify hazards in a work site or specific job function and investigate the potential for injury, illness or accident.  Keep in mind that sometimes the perception of risk can be as important as the reality of risk.  You can examine not only the work processes that are being done, but also how they are being done.  You may discover that the hazards are being created as a result of pushing, pulling or lifting; being caught in, on between; being struck against or by; or from slips, trips and falls.  You will also be able to identify who or what could be harmed or damaged by the hazards and then develop solutions to eliminate, reduce or control the hazards.

Once hazards are discovered in a work activity, the first solution should be to find a different and safe method to perform the work or reduce the frequency of the task.  Another possible solution could be to engineer out the hazard through a change in physical condition or a revision or mechanization of the procedure.  You may find that the hazard resulted because of inadequate training of the worker.

It is important for every employer to periodically examine and evaluate their work operations for potential hazards and unsafe activities.  Low number of accidents and injuries do not necessarily mean a hazard-free work site.  Adopt a proactive approach to the prevention of problems from developing by looking beyond the absence of incidents and injuries.


Courtesy of State Compensation Insurance Fund

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