3.1 Introduction

Safety Hazards and how to avoid them

What constitutes a hazard
Video – Health and Safety
Exercise – Hazard awareness assessment

If you are living in Ireland, click here for the Safety Hazards and how to avoid them, information for Ireland

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states that employers and self-employed people have a legal responsibility for the health and safety of the business, employees also must abide by health and safety laws and could be dismissed for failure to comply. Health and safety is about preventing people from being harmed at work or becoming ill, by taking the right precautions and providing a satisfactory working environment.

They are responsible for the health and safety of, and have a duty of care for, everyone affected by the business and its activities. This includes:

  • employees working at the premises, from home, or at another site
  • visitors to the premises such as customers or subcontractors
  • people at other premises where you’re working, such as a construction site
  • members of the public – even if they’re outside the premises
  • anyone affected by products and services designed, produced or supplied by the business

    What constitutes a hazard?

    By law all employers and self-employed individuals must carry out a risk assessment on their business premises and activities. The assessment is not expected to eliminate all risk, but help to protect people as far as ‘reasonably practicable’.

    A risk assessment is an important tool in protecting workers and the business. It helps to focus on those risks that have the potential to cause harm. Most of these can be readily controlled by straightforward measures.

    A hazard is anything with the potential to cause harm. The risk is the likelihood that someone could be harmed by that hazard together with an indication of how serious the harm could be.

    The first stage of a risk assessment is to look for hazards. A hazard can be something easily seen, such as a trailing cable, a worn carpet or exposed wiring. Or it can be something less obvious – a slippery surface, for example.

    It can be something general, such as poor lighting. Or it can be something specific to the business, such as the particular hazardous substances you use.

    Employers often distinguish between hazards under the headings:

  • Workplace hazards, such as a workshop’s layout
  • Activity hazards, such as using grinding machinery in your workshop
  • Environmental hazards, such as the dust created when using grinding machinery

  • Use Right Click and save this file to your computer to test your awareness of hazards (requires PowerPoint)