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A hazard is something that can potentially cause harm to a worker or damage to property. Find out your responsibilities when it comes to reporting, recognizing, assessing and controlling hazards.


Hazards can be grouped in the following categories:

Biological: Living organisms, or products of living organisms, that can be toxic, resulting in illness or disease to humans (e.g. bacteria, viruses, insects, plants, birds, animals, and humans).

Chemical: Inanimate toxic substances that can cause bodily harm. Chemical hazards take many forms such as gases, vapours, dust and fumes.

MSD: An injury to any part of the musculoskeletal system (e.g. muscle, tendons, ligaments, nerves, joints, etc.) caused by repetitive movements, improper workstation set-up, etc.

Physical: Forms of energy that can harm the body when not controlled (e.g. electricity, extreme temperatures, noise, vibration, radiation, magnetic fields, etc.).

Psychosocial: Conditions or activities that adversely affect physical, mental and/or emotional wellbeing (e.g. workplace harassment, stress, violence, etc.)

Safety: anything that may cause injury or loss of life (e.g. slipping/tripping hazards, inappropriate machine guarding, equipment malfunctions, etc.).

See the Downloads section for information on different workplace hazards.

Controlling Hazards

Each identified or recognized hazard will be assessed and controls put in place to ensure that activities can be performed with maximum safety. Hazard control is the process of either eliminating, substituting or decreasing exposure to a hazard.

This chart outlines the location where controls can be applied, beginning at the source.

At the Source
  • Elimination
  • Substitution
  • Isolation
Along the Path
  • Ventilation
  • Barriers, Guarding
  • Administrative - Housekeeping, Lockout/tag out, Job rotation, Job cross training
At the Worker
  • Training
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Hazard Recognition & Reporting

As the employer, you need to understand the health and safety risks in your workplace. You must also appoint competent supervisors, which means that they must understand the hazards of the work they’re organizing or directing. Knowing your hazards and understanding the risk they pose, will help you prioritize other elements of your program, including orientation, training, inspections and preventative maintenance.

See the Resource section for a Hazard Risk Assessment Tool and other hazard resources.

Hazard Assessment

There are different ways to demonstrate an understanding of workplace hazards. Many firms choose to document this information by following the RACE model, which takes you through a systematic process to recognize, assess, control and evaluate hazards.

The RACE Model
RecognizeIdentify the existing and potential hazards that your workers could be exposed to.
  • Observe the workplace people, equipment, materials, environment and processes
  • Review inspection and hazard reports
  • Review past injuries and near-misses
  • Ask for employee input
AssessDetermine the level of risk for each hazard. This can help determine priority for action.
  • Consider how many people work with or around the hazard and how frequently they are exposed
  • Consider the likely consequences if a hazard is not controlled effectively

Identify the most effective actions to reduce or manage the level of risk.

Consider the hierarchy of control to identify suitable controls. Remember to follow any laws, regulations or codes that apply to the hazard.

  • Can the hazard be eliminated or substituted for a less hazardous option
  • Are there engineered controls to reduce risk (e.g. guarding)
  • Administrative controls (e.g. job rotation, training, safe work procedures and signage)
  • What is the correct personal protective equipment for the work
EvaluateReview whether or not the control was implemented properly. Ensure that no new hazards have been created as a result.
  • Observe that control has been implemented and is working as planned
  • Ask employees for feedback
  • Make improvements as required

Reporting Hazards

It is the duty of all workers to report hazards to their supervisor immediately. You can make it easy for workers to report hazards by establishing a simple process such as text messaging or a central email address. Another option is to implement Hazard Report Form and keep blank copies in each department. Be sure to keep track of all hazards being reported and any solutions you implement. This will help you to identify trends and support your ‘due diligence’.

See the Downloads section for a sample Hazard Report Form.


Hazard Reporting Form (1-19 workers) & Hazard Reporting Form (20-49 workers) | Forms to report hazards and to record action taken by supervisors or managers. Employers are encouraged to use, reproduce, or customize this document / template to meet their health and safety requirements.

Small Business Hazard Assessment Tool | An easy to use template to assist in assessing workplace hazards and risks.

Small Business Hazard Assessment Tool Instructions | Easy to follow instructions for using hazard assessment tools in all types of workplaces, industry sectors and work tasks.

Reporting Suspected Impairment | A sample form which can be used as a template. Employers are encouraged to use, reproduce, or customize this document / template to meet their health and safety requirements.

Responding To Suspected Impairment Form | A sample form which can be used as a template. Employers are encouraged to use, reproduce, or customize this document / template to meet their health and safety requirements.

Workplace Policy Regarding Impairment | A sample Health and Safety policy which can be used as a template. Employers are encouraged to use, reproduce, or customize this document / template to meet their health and safety requirements.

Right to Disconnect (25+ workers) | Bill 27: The Right to Disconnect, mandates that employers in Ontario with 25 or more employees must develop a written policy giving workers the right to disconnect at the end of their workday.

Job Aids | Serious hazards can arise in the workplace. Use our Job Aids to help build your awareness of specific workplace hazards including people affected and existing controls.

Posters | Download free posters and learn how to prevent common accidents. Post in your workplace and on your safety board.


Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs): Awareness | Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are a potential risk for all sectors and occupations. They can cause discomfort, fatigue, pain, injury, and illness to workers. In fact, work-related musculoskeletal injuries are the most frequent type of lost-time injury and are the largest source of lost-time worker compensation costs in Canada.

WHMIS 2015 Online Training | Learn about the changes to WHMIS after GHS implementation.


Access free Workplace Health & Safety Tips Videos including Safety Snippets, Chemical Handling, Wearhouse Safety Tips and more.

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