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Identify and fix safety issues

Find the hazards

The first thing you need to do is to find the hazards in your workplace – that is, find anything with the potential to cause harm. Some hazards will be obvious because they'll be common to your industry, but others won't be.

  • Start by talking. It's a legal requirement that safety is discussed in workplaces, and it's also smart management.
  • Find out more about getting the conversation started with workplace consultation.
  • Working closely with your employees, take a look around your workplace using this self assessment tool to identify safety issues. Write those you find down – on your Safety Action Plan.
  • Go through any injury records you have. They might show you if problem areas exist, or if any patterns are emerging. If you don't currently keep a written record of workplace injuries – and near misses – start now.
  • Take a look at what inspectors check for – view the safer work zones

Now after you've made your list of possible hazards, you need to assess the risk – that is, make a judgment about the seriousness of each hazard, and decide which hazard requires the most urgent attention.

Fix the problems

When you've prioritised the hazards on your list, you need to start immediately on the most important step of all – fixing the problems in consultation with your workers.

  • Your first aim should be to totally remove the risk. For example, if the risk involves a hazardous chemical, try to find a safe alternative to the chemical. If there is a slipping or tripping hazard in your workplace, see if it can be removed. If a task is intrinsically dangerous, look for alternative ways to complete the task.
  • If it's not possible to totally remove a risk, you need to find ways to control it. You might have to alter the way certain jobs are done, change work procedures, or perhaps provide protective equipment.
  • Where you are unsure of the risks in a task use the self-assessment checklist you filled out during the find the hazard stage to consider the safety issues in each step.

You'll often find there are simple solutions to many of the hazards in your workplace. Most of them will be inexpensive, and some will cost nothing at all. Of course, sometimes there are no straightforward solutions. What do you do then?