There were 919 occupational fatalities in Canada for 2014. Even with sophisticated risk-informed approaches, many hazards are overlooked.
Unforeseen events often have the most negative consequences, such as the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster or the BP Macondo spill. These types of events are categorized as: completely unknown (unknown unknowns), unknown by the risk assessor, but known to other stakeholders (unknown knowns), or judged as extremely improbable. Events become more knowable, when organizations expand their consultation to employees and broader stakeholder groups and monitoring to broader industry and related events. This creates resilience in risk management systems by enhancing organizations’ ability to: 1) monitor what is going on, including their own performance, 2) anticipate risk events and opportunities, 3) respond to regular and irregular threats in a flexible manner, and 4) learn from their own and others’ experiences.
Hazard Identification is a proactive process of identifying the sources of harm to people, environment, assets or activities. These could be chemical (chemical reactions, flammability, toxicity), electrical (electrocution, weld flash), physical (vibration, excessive force), ergonomic (poor posture), biological (viruses, bacteria), radiation (x-rays, heat energy), or psychological hazards (stress, fatigue, harassment).
Our first step for avoiding harm is to accurately identify potential hazards in a workplace through a site inspection. How is work done? What equipment, materials, and substances are being used? How is equipment laid out? What can go wrong?