What is Hazard Identification in HSE?


What is Hazard Identification in HSE? Loosely translates to Risk Assessment in Health and Safety. Risk assessments in health and safety form part of the risk management process which are included in the overall Health and Safety Management Plan and Program of organizations, in addition to forming part of the Occupational Health and Safety Act’s requirements, to which employers must be compliant.

A risk assessment involves the process of identifying the current and existing hazards that may appear in the workplace and it defines those that are likely to cause harm to employees, contractors, visitors, and any other person that may be affected by the activities of the organisation.

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What does hazard identification entail?

Risks must be considered across all aspects of the workplace, for example:

  • Hazards such as electrical safety, fire safety, manual handling, hazardous substances, risk factors for repetitive strain injury or ergonomic hazards, stress, violence, infectious diseases such as Covid-19, and numerous others.
  • Tasks which include but are not limited to cleaning activities using hazardous substances, maintenance works, dealing with the public, and others.
  • Organisational factors such as staff and procurement policies, systems of work, equipment-purchasing policies, and several others.


Who needs to conduct a hazard identification or risk assessment process?

By law, the employer is tasked with the responsibility of carrying out a risk assessment on the work that is done by their employees, however, the employer is permitted to appoint a competent person, in writing, to conduct a risk assessment on their behalfs, such as a health and safety manager, or officer.

How can an employer carry out a basic hazard identification/risk assessment?

Risk assessments are not complex and can follow a process involving the following steps:

  • Look for and list the hazards to health and safety.
  • Evaluate and analyse the risks that could stem from these hazards, their probability, and their severity.
  • Deciding who might be at risk, and how.
  • Check whether there are preventative measures in place and whether they are effective, decide whether additional measures are necessary.
  • Record the findings.
  • Review the risk assessment frequently or when significant changes occur.

The role of Safety Reps during a hazard identification/risk assessment

Safety representatives play an important role in examining the risk assessments that are carried out by employers and deciding whether they are suitable and adequate.

A crucial consideration for safety representatives is that risk assessments must be systematic and thorough, they must consider what really happens in the workplace and not what employers believe should happen.

Some actions that can be taken by the safety representative to ensure that the risk assessment is adequate includes, but are not limited to:

  • Interviewing the employees who carry out specific tasks and who thus have a practical understanding of the hazards and risks involved with their work.
  • Observe what happens by inspecting the premises.
  • Check the written risk assessment and plans, and make sure that all risks are covered. A clear strategy for the improvement of health and safety in the workplace must be realistically and accurately represented by the documents.
  • Check that the responsibilities are clearly defined for implementing control measures.
  • Challenge any shortcomings which are discovered.
  • Agree on priorities for action with the employer.

Safety Representatives have extensive rights as per the Occupational Health and Safety Act and other legislation. Some of these include:

  • The right to investigate health and safety matters.
  • The right to be consulted.
  • The right to inspect the workplace frequently.
  • The right to receive information on health and safety matters, and several others.


Covid-19 Risk Assessments

The importance of risk assessments has been highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic which has all but dissipated. During the pandemic, employers should make every reasonable effort to ensure that staff can work from home.

Where this is not possible, employers must ensure to carry out a risk assessment to ensure that employees can return to a workplace that is “Covid-secure”.

Covid-19 has the potential to cause grave harm to the health of employees and for this reason, there are stringent requirements which must be in place to prevent the spread of the virus.

Employers must keep their Covid-19 risk assessments under consistent review to consider any changes to government guidance, technological developments such as vaccines, and improved understanding of how the virus is transmitted, which includes the emergence of new variants as the virus mutates.

Employers must identify employees for whom they have a duty of care regardless of whether they are staff, or service-users who are classed as either at most, or moderate risk, from Covid-19.

How does SafetyWallet support its subscribers?

SafetyWallet, in partnership with MAKROSAFE and OHS Online, ensures that subscribers can obtain the highest level of compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act, all other Regulations, and more.

Through the assistance and support in the health and safety program of the subscriber, SafetyWallet helps subscribers with the health and safety risk assessments that must be conducted to ensure that subscribers are compliant in providing a healthy and safe working environment.

Keeping your workplace legally Health and Safety Compliant may seem like a daunting task. At MAKROSAFE, we have an experienced team of OHS experts available to assist in keeping your company Health and Safety Compliant according to South African Health and Safety Acts and Regulations.
The MAKROSAFE Health and Safety Risk Control Package will assist you with your Risk Management Programme.
By signing up with our Health and Safety Risk Control Package, MAKROSAFE will assist you with your Risk Management journey.
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Posted date: 16th May 2021
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