INTRODUCTION: Every workplace has some inherent hazards. However, the probability of injury or death is usually reduced if adequate and suitable control measures are put in place.
As such, the health and safety of the worker with respect to the job/activity/task must be proactively and holistically assessed as this cannot be overemphasized.
The following are some of the proactive safety steps working and managing the risk in a hazardous working environment, task, and activity:
This involves Identifying what could cause injury or illness in a workplace (HAZARD); how likely it is that someone could be harmed and the consequences of the severity of such injury. By extension, this includes the Actions (risk control and management measures) to be taken to eliminate such hazard or control such risk if it isn’t possible to eliminate it.
The worker must be competent; trained, experienced, knowledgeable and qualified to carry out the assigned task/activity in a safe and healthy method without compromising his personal health and safety and that of others that might be affected by his action and inactions.
This is an advanced and standard demonstration of knowledge in a particular field of work. And as such, it is expected that the worker who intends to carry out any assigned specific skilled professional task or activity should be certified by the relevant standard or regulatory body responsible for that defined profession or occupation. This certification could also be in the form of an internal work management process whereby there are processes by an organization to designate some specific skill holders certified to carry out some specific high-risk activity in the workplace.
PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE)
Relevant and task-specific PPEs must be worn for the assigned task and role in line with the outcome of a risk assessment or, job safety analysis. Recall, that the PPEs are as good as the user; they are the last line of “defence” and protection in the hierarchy of risk controls, hence, it is always advisable never to always resort to PPEs as your first line of protection and risk control.
A robust emergency response plan and procedure tested and trusted should be in place for any possible emergency. A dedicated and trained rescue personnel with assigned defined roles and responsibilities should be in place as well and, a regular test of the functionality and availability of the rescue process should be conducted to ensure that in the event of a real emergency, response time and deployment of rescue personnel and equipment are timely and successful with minimal or no loss recorded. An adequate mean for communication should also be established and tested for effectiveness.
Effective and proactive management of risk from hazardous working environments or tasks can greatly reduce the risk and, prevent LTIs. This can be achieved by following the above five steps proactively.