Advance notice: CSA to launch hazard identification standard

Dec 13, 2011

Advance Notice: CSA to launch hazard identification standardIn early spring, CSA is expected to launch a new standard that will help users apply a systematic approach to identifying hazards, assessing the risk they pose, and eliminating or controlling them.

“These three steps are the underpinnings of an effective occupational health and safety management system,” says Freddie Ovanessian, a senior consulting solution designer with Workplace Safety & Prevention Services and a member of the CSA technical committee responsible for the standard. “Strong underpinnings will help you build a management system that can respond to hazards promptly and effectively. Conversely, if your underpinnings are shaky, the whole system is at risk of collapse. This means exposing workers to the risk of injury and your operations to the risk of failure.”

The standard is based on the following principles:

  • hazard and risk are not synonymous
  • where hazards exist risk exists
  • risk is a function of the severity of harm and the likelihood of the occurrence of that harm
  • where hazards are eliminated risk is eliminated
  • where hazards exist risk controls are required.

What the standard offers

CSA Z1002, Occupational health and safety – hazards and risks – identification, assessment, elimination and control, describes methods that workplaces can use to identify hazards, eliminate them, and analyze the risk associated with hazards that cannot be eliminated. The standard lists a variety of factors to consider when analyzing hazards, such as scientific data, incident history, systematic team approaches, and consultation with workers, worker representatives, and other stakeholders. The standard also provides guidance on the application of risk control measures, monitoring of residual risk, and continual improvement to reduce the risk as better control measures become available.

“Because the standard is general in nature, it’s applicable to organizations of any size or type,” says Ovanessian. “Also, it can be applied at all stages in the life cycle of the product, process or service.”

Who it’s for

This standard is intended for all workplace stakeholders, such as those who are responsible for

  • evaluating an organization’s risk assessment practices
  • ensuring that an organization eliminates hazards and controls risk associated with remaining hazards that can’t be eliminated
  • organizational efforts to eliminate hazards and control risk within a specific area or activity
  • developing standards, guides, procedures, and codes of practice that set out how hazards are to be eliminated and risks controlled.

Why it’s needed

Employers and supervisors have obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act to inform workers of hazards, so that the workers can perform their duties safely. Employers and supervisors can’t meet these obligations without conducting hazard and risk assessments, and eliminating or controlling the risks. Documenting the process can also help workplace parties demonstrate due diligence if an incident arises despite the precautions taken.

Here are excerpts from the Occupational Health and Safety Act that describe workplace parties’ obligations:

  • an employer covered by the act has an obligation to
    • instruct, inform and supervise workers to protect their health and safety [section 25(2)(a)]
    • appoint competent persons as supervisors [section 25(2)(c)]. "Competent person" has a very specific meaning under the Act. He or she must know about any actual or potential danger to health and safety in the workplace
    • inform a worker, or a person in authority over a worker, about any hazard in the work and train that worker in the handling, storage, use, disposal and transport of any equipment, substances, tools, material, etc. [section 25(2)(d)]
    • take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker [section 25(2)(h)].
  • a supervisor must
    • advise a worker of any potential or actual health or safety dangers known by the supervisor [section 27(2)(a)];
    • take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of workers [section 27(2)(c)].
  • a worker must report any known workplace hazard to the employer or supervisor [section 28(1)(d)].

But the standard does more. “The goal of the standard,” explains Ovanessian, “is to enable an organization to use hazard identification and risk assessment processes to prevent injuries, illnesses, and fatalities, and/or reduce the severity of harm related to work activities and environments through hazard elimination and risk controls. While implementing risk control strategies is critical, improving injury prevention strategies is equally important. This can be achieved by proactively identifying hazards, eliminating them and, where practicable, applying appropriate risk assessment techniques.”

How we can help

Visit the Hazard Assessment topic page for additional information and resources.