How and when to report potential health and safety risks that have been identified

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How and when to report potential health and safety risks that have been identified

The caption of this article “How and when to report potential health and safety risks that have been identified” is self-explanatory.

It covers two areas:

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  1. How to report potential health and safety risks that have been identified.
  2. When to report potential health and safety risks that have been identified.

I will consider the question in its individual part.

Before we get to the subject matter; What is risk?

In health and safety, a risk is explained in terms of the likelihood of something bad happening to a person if he gets exposed to a hazard. For example – Risk of a worker working at height to fall from that height. Based on the result of risk assessment, risk could be graded as high, medium or low.

Back to the first question;

1. How to report potential health and safety risks that have been identified

The question – How to report potential health and safety risks that have been identified is organization specific; i.e, There is no universal framework for this.

All organization when setting up their Health and Safety Management system (HSE-MS) have to set up a line of communication for reporting all identified hazards, risks and incidents.

Without this structure, the HSE-MS may fail because it will lack the feedback information for continuous development and maintenance of the system.

Therefore, all organization have to set an effective line of communication where all hazards and risks can be reported. This line of information should be made available to all workers. This information can be communicated to the workers verbally or pasted on strategic points around the work-site.

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See example of how USC structure their hazard/risk reporting system

SOURCE
RESPONSIBLE PERSON NEAR MISS, HAZARD OR INCIDENT WHO TO NOTIFY METHOD OF NOTIFICATION TIME LINE (FROM TIME OF INCIDENT)
Injured person or first person on scene If there has been an injury requiring first aid or medical treatment Security / first aid officer Tel: +61 7 5430 1122 (urgent)
Tel: +61 7 5430 1168 (non-urgent)
Immediately
Person identifying hazard If there is a hazard with the potential to cause injury or harm Security / first aid officer Tel: +61 7 5430 1122 (urgent)
Tel: +61 7 5430 1168 (non-urgent)
As soon as practical
Injured person or person identifying hazard All incidents and hazards that cause or have the potential to cause injury or damage Immediate supervisor / manager Phone and email (with copy of Near Miss / Hazard Report) If high likelihood of injury or damage—immediately
Person identifying hazard Hazards and near misses of a non-urgent nature Immediate supervisor / manager Phone and email (with copy of Near Miss / Hazard Report) Within 24 hours
Supervisor / manager If supervisor / manager cannot implement effective controls Cost Centre Manager Phone and email (with copy of Near Miss / Hazard Report) As soon as practical
Injured person, person identifying hazard and / or supervisor / manager All incidents and hazards that cause or have the potential to cause an injury that would require medical attention Cost Centre Manager Phone and email (with copy of Near Miss / Hazard Report)

 

Within 24 hours

From the sample reporting structure, we can see the reporting plan there. It covers the:

  • The responsible person – The person s affected or the person who identifies the risk.
  • Type of issue identified: Near miss, hazard or incident
  • Who to notify: State who they should notify of the identified safety issue
  • Mode of notification: Stipulates the mode of notification; phone call, mail, etc.
  • Time line for reporting: Depending on the risk level, a the reporting time line is given.

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Any organization who has put this in place and make this information available to all their employees, have succeeded in setting a good hazard and risk tracking system.

However, going back to the question – There is no universal standard for reporting hazards and risks in the work place. It is only expected that all hazards and risks in the workplace should be reported to a Competent Person.

The competent person according to OSHA is “One who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees, and who has authorization by the organization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them”.

 

Lets get to the second question:

2. When to report potential health and safety risks that have been identified?

The answer to this is – Immediately it is identified as far as possible.

All identified hazards and risks should be reported to a competent person immediately, the competent person may be the supervisor, departmental head, Health and safety personnel, etc.

Also, from the USC reporting structure highlighted above, you can equally see “reporting time” placed on every identified safety related issue.

This means that any organization can also place a reporting time to different identified hazards/risk depending on need.

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I hope this article has been able to address the subject matter.

If you still have questions or contributions, you can contact us or use the comment box.

 

Thank you.

 

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