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HEALTH & SAFETY


4: HOW SHOULD YOU IDENTIFY HAZARDS?


There are many tools and techniques available to identify hazards but there is no dominant approach. A combination of techniques is generally applied to suit analysis objectives and complexity of the endeavour, based on the following characteristics:


a Hazard identification exercises will generally be completed as a Workshop, ‘Desk-Top’ Study or ‘Walk- Down’ activity. The pros and cons of these are illustrated in Figure 1. Visualisation is an extremely powerful tool in hazard identification but it need not be limited to physical ‘Walk- Downs’. virtual ’Walk-Downs’ can be easily performed using commonly available computer software [e.g. Google Earth and 3-D Design Tools] to enhance other activities.


Figure 1: Pros and Cons of Hazard Identification Activities


c Hazards are identified by either a ‘top-down’ or ‘bottom-up’ approach. The former identifies the potential causes of a series of predetermined events. It is limited by the scope of events so may not identify all issues, but allows a high-level understanding of the main hazards to be gained at an early stage in a project when detailed information is limited. The latter approach examines detailed design/operational information to identify individual events that could realise a hazardous effect, thereby generating an exhaustive list of hazards, but can only be performed when such information becomes available.


You can only be expected to identify hazards that are reasonably foreseeable. An appropriate balance must therefore be found in terms of the resource, time and effort committed to identifying hazards. Also, the depth and rigour of analysis must always be proportionate to the overall risk. Regardless of the approach [or combination of approaches] used, all identified hazards should be collated into a single, live Hazard Register.


5: WHO SHOULD BE INVOLVED IN HAZARD IDENTIFICATION?


‘The only source of knowledge is experience’ - Albert Einstein This is certainly true for hazard identification. It should be performed by individuals experienced in all facets of the endeavour; design, technology, operations, project, safety etc. and coordinated/ managed by individuals experienced in the selection, application and use of hazard identification tools and techniques. Wherever possible, individuals with experience of similar endeavours should be involved to allow appropriate lessons to be learned.


Hazard identification must never be viewed as a necessary evil; embrace its benefits. It de-risks projects by identifying problems at an early stage allowing timely and efficient action to be taken. If managed effectively it will save you time and money.


In future issues we will explore what you do with your Hazard Register to ensure that the associated risks are appropriately managed.


Gareth Ellor Risktec Solutions Ltd www.risktec.co.uk


b Each exercise will analyse the endeavour from either a design/ engineering or operations perspective. For complex, novel endeavours then both approaches are likely to be appropriate. For simple endeavours where previous experience exists one approach is likely to be adequate, dictated by the nature of the endeavour.


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