Hazard Controls | Hasmate health and safety
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Hazard Controls

Hazard Controls

Previously, we have written about the health and safety terms of the methods of “risk assessment” and the definition of “all reasonably practicable steps”.

The following is an opinion of how these can be applied when managing hazards and risks in your business.

Case Scenario

You have had a serious notifiable accident in your business and WorkSafe NZ are undertaking an investigation. You have been asked to produce your hazard and risk register to show that the accident in question had been:

  1. Identified as an actual or potential source of harm;
  2. Recorded as a hazard and risk to employees’ safety;
  3. Risk rated, and the most practicable controls (e.g. engineering and administration – safe operating procedures) were selected and implemented;
  4. Communicated to all employees concerned; and
  5. Employees retrained in the new safe operating procedure (SOP).

Following the review of the hazard register, and specifically the register dealing with the accident, you are asked what information you used (and where it was found) for establishing the best controls for the machine involved with the accident?

Your response – “I have been in the engineering trade for 40 years, and in business for the past 30 years, and what I put in place was what I believed to be the best controls. Anyway, it was just a lack of judgement on the part of the employee who should know better as a trained engineer.”

An all-too-common excuse, that doesn’t show understanding of the best methods of risk control.

A Question About Establishing Hazard Controls

We were recently contacted by a business owner from Taranaki who asked the following question –

“When I am considering the best methods, ways, or information for establishing controls for the hazards and risks in my business operations, can I use my years of experience, or do I have to use other information, and if so, where do I find it?”

A great question, and one that perplexes many business owners!

Our Response for Hazard Controls

You have to revisit your obligations and what the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 states you have to do.

The following is the reference I sent him from the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 Section 22.

Meaning of reasonably practicable

In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires, reasonably practicable, in relation to a duty of a PCBU, means that which is, or was, at a particular time, reasonably able to be done in relation to ensuring health and safety, taking into account and weighing up all relevant matters, including –

(a)  the likelihood of the hazard or the risk concerned occurring; and

(b)  the degree of harm that might result from the hazard or risk; and

(c)  what the person concerned knows, or ought reasonably to know, about –

(i)  the hazard or risk; and

(ii)  ways of eliminating or minimising the risk; and

(d)  the availability and suitability of ways to eliminate or minimise the risk; and

(e)  after assessing the extent of the risk and the available ways of eliminating or minimising the risk, the cost associated with available ways of eliminating or minimising the risk, including whether the cost is grossly disproportionate to the risk.

Subsections c, d and e mention “ways” – e.g. the different methods found in the hierarchy of controls.

The list of ways or methods is too great to mention here, as all situations are different.

The question then arises – are there other sources of information to consider?

Hazard Control Resources

Think of the following hazard control resources as a pyramid of descending hierarchy if elimination is not possible.

If elimination of the risk/hazard is not possible, use the following hazard control resources, working from the top down.  Note – most important resources are listed first.

  1. AS/NZS standards that are fit for purpose in design. (E.g. AS/NZS 4204 Safety of Machinery – Electrical equipment of machines);
  2. The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015;
  3. The Health and Safety at Work Regulations 2016;
  4. National standards, such as ISO 9001, ISO 45001, etc.;
  5. The Hazardous Substance Regulations 2017;
  6. Other industry-related Acts;
  7. WorkSafe NZ and industry accepted codes of practice;
  8. WorkSafe NZ fact sheets – found on WorkSafe’s website.
  9. Machine instructions or manufacturer’s manuals.
  10. The internet for information. It’s what you apply and test for suitability from this source that’s applicable.
  11. Published safe work practices or safe operating procedures (SOPs) as a source of information as what others are using as a control.

Numbers s 2 – 11 must be taken into account, in the design and installation processes of all structures, new and secondhand machinery, or new processes.

In summary, it’s the responsibility of the PCBU, or their authorised and delegated person, to undertake their research and due diligence of the most practicable controls for the identified business hazards and risks, as part of their health and safety management processes.

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Please contact us if you would like to discuss.