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How to Tackle Formal Hazard Assessments with Ease: Tips and Tricks from the Pros

Updated: Feb 12, 2023

Health and safety in the workplace are crucial for preventing accidents and injuries, and conducting hazard assessments is a critical step in ensuring a safe working environment. In this post, we will discuss formal hazard assessments and how they differ from site-specific hazard assessments. We'll also provide you with actionable steps and practical solutions for conducting a formal hazard assessment in Canada and share real-life examples to make the process relatable and engaging.

Statistics and Data to Support the Importance of Hazard Assessment

According to the Association of Workers' Compensation Boards of Canada, there were over 235,000 reported workplace injuries in Canada in 2020, with an average of 651 injuries per day. The direct cost of these injuries is estimated to be over $2 billion per year. These statistics highlight the importance of conducting hazard assessments to prevent workplace accidents and injuries and to minimize the costs associated with them.


Formal Hazard Assessment vs. Site-Specific Hazard Assessment

A formal hazard assessment is a comprehensive assessment of the health and safety risks in a workplace. It considers all tasks and activities performed in the workplace and evaluates the risks associated with each. A formal hazard assessment is usually conducted at the beginning of a new project or when a new workplace is established. Formal hazard assessments can also be called Job Safety Analysis (JSAs), Task Hazard Analysis (THAs), Process Hazard Analysis (PHA), or Job Hazard Analysis (JHA).


A site-specific hazard assessment, on the other hand, is a focused assessment of the health and safety risks associated with a specific site or project. It considers the specific tasks and activities performed at the site and evaluates the risks associated with each. A site-specific hazard assessment is usually conducted when there is a change in the work performed at a site or when new risks are identified. These can also be called Field Level Hazard Assessments (FLHAs)


Why are Formal Hazard Assessments Important?

Formal hazard assessments are important for several reasons, including:

  1. Compliance with OHS regulations: By conducting regular formal hazard assessments, you can ensure that your workplace is in compliance with Canadian OHS regulations. This can help you avoid penalties and fines, and protect your business from legal liability.

  2. Improved workplace safety: By identifying potential hazards and taking steps to control or eliminate them, formal hazard assessments can help you improve the safety of your workplace. This can help reduce the risk of accidents, injuries, and illnesses, and create a safer, healthier work environment for your employees.

  3. Increased efficiency: By identifying and eliminating hazards, formal hazard assessments can help you streamline processes and improve overall efficiency in the workplace. This can help you save time and money, and improve the overall productivity of your business.


Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting a Formal Hazard Assessment

  1. Figure out what people do at the organization.

    1. A job task inventory is beneficial to help identify all the positions within the company. For example at a construction company could be equipment operators, supervisors, administration, Foreman, and labour

  2. List all work tasks or activities for each job.

    1. Once an inventory of positions has been created, it is time to review what tasks and activities each position completes. Tasks completed as an equipment operator could include forklift operation, skid steer operation, backhoe operation, fire extinguisher use, driving etc.

  3. Identify any health and safety hazards related to each task or activity.

    1. A health hazard is anything that could harm someone’s health, either immediately or over time. This could include loud noises, repetitive movements, sun exposure, and chemical exposure

    2. A safety hazard is anything that could cause injury or damage. An injury caused by a safety hazard is usually immediate (for example a broken bone, a sprain or a cut). This could include falling objects, slippery surfaces, sharp equipment, and icy roads. Safety hazards tend to get our attention in a hurry. When someone falls and breaks their back, for example, everyone takes note.

    3. Workplace hazards can be grouped into four categories. They may include but are not limited to physical hazards, chemical hazards, biological hazards, and psychosocial hazards.

  4. Find ways to eliminate or control the hazards.

    1. You must eliminate hazards wherever you can. Removing tripping hazards or safely disposing of unwanted chemicals are examples of hazard elimination. If hazards cannot be eliminated, they must be controlled.

    2. Your hazard assessment may reveal a lot of hazards. All hazards have to be addressed. It may not be realistic to address them all immediately. Prioritize the hazards you’ve identified and address those that pose the greatest risk right away. Make sure you introduce interim controls for those hazards that may have to wait for more permanent solutions.

    3. There are 4 different types of controls. The most effective control is elimination, then engineering controls, then administrative controls and then PPE is the last line of defence.

  5. Implement the selected controls.

    1. Once you’ve identified the hazards and selected the appropriate way to eliminate or control them, you need to follow through with action.

      1. Have a plan to implement the identified controls and to confirm they are effective.

      2. Be prepared to introduce temporary controls when more permanent solutions will take time to implement.

  6. Communicate the hazards and follow the controls.

    1. Workers have to know the hazards of their jobs and what to do to stay healthy and safe in light of those hazards.

  7. Monitor the effectiveness of controls.

    1. When we introduce controls, we might end up introducing new workplace hazards. By regularly monitoring and evaluating the controls, confirming workers are following correct procedures, and making sure equipment is appropriate and in good working condition, we can anticipate problems before the health and safety of workers is negatively affected.

  8. Review and revise the hazard assessment

    1. The workplace is always changing. To keep workers healthy and safe, employers are required to review an existing hazard assessment and revise it accordingly when a new task, work process, or equipment is introduced, or when there is a significant change to a work site.


Real-Life Examples

Here are some real-life examples of formal hazard assessments in action:

  1. A construction company conducts a formal hazard assessment of their new workplace and identifies the hazard of falls from height. They evaluate the risk of serious injury if a fall were to occur and develop control measures such as providing fall protection equipment, conducting regular safety meetings, and providing training to employees on fall protection.

  2. A manufacturing company conducts a formal hazard assessment of their new workplace and identifies the hazard of machinery accidents. They evaluate the risk of serious injury if an accident were to occur and develop control measures such as implementing lockout procedures, posting warning signs, and providing training to employees on machine safety.


A formal hazard assessment is an essential tool for ensuring the safety and security of your workplace. By conducting a thorough and systematic assessment, you can identify and control potential hazards, reducing the risk of injury or harm to employees, contractors, and visitors.


So, if you're looking to create a safe and secure workplace, it's time to start thinking about conducting a formal hazard assessment. Whether you're a manager, supervisor, or owner, a formal hazard assessment is a critical component of creating a safe and secure workplace.


Don't wait until it's too late, take action today! At On-Track Safety, we're here to help you create a safe and secure workplace, so don't hesitate to reach out to us for assistance. Whether you need help conducting a formal hazard assessment or developing and implementing control measures, we're here to help.


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