Have you been naughty or nice when it comes to hazard recognition?


Are you accepting risks because that's how it's always been done?

Have you fallen into the trap of drift? Are you guilty of accepting a certain level of risk because “that’s how it’s always been done, and nothing has happened…YET!”

HAZARD – a potential source of harm or adverse health effect on a person or persons.

RISK – the likelihood that a person may be harmed or suffers adverse health effects if exposed to a hazard.

Hazard – key word is potential. This word can create difficulty for all humans since it may or may not happen to us.

Drift - A standard is the minimum acceptable level of performance.  Over time we all tend to drift away from the standard.  Without correction, this drift will result in a new lower standard of performance and may also lead to an event.   Consistent coaching of these behavior deviations allows the organization to eliminate drift and maintain standards.

There are two types of RISKS:

Statistically Verifiable – risks are risks for voluntary or involuntary activities that have been determined from direct observation. These risks can be compared to each other.

  • Observation

  • Fact

  • Previous occurrence

Statistically Non-Verifiable – risks are risks from involuntary activities that are based on limited data sets.

  • Chance of a serious injury

There are many theories and applications in the industry that provide guidance and solutions to create a hazard recognition program.  However, you want to create a program that is sustainable and applies to your specific industry.

risk tolerance.jpg

An effective Hazard Recognition Program should include the following:

  1. Principles of Hazard Control

    • Hazards must be identified before they can be controlled

    • Must have safety by design and defense in depth

  2. Risk Tolerance

  • Behavior and perception hazards

  • Situational awareness

3. Identify the Types of Hazards

  • Ergonomic

  • Potential Energy (Stored Energy)

  • Kinetic Energy (Energy in Motion) 

4. Complete Job Hazard Assessment – A Job Hazard Assessment (JHA) is a technique that focuses on job tasks to identify hazards before they occur. The relationship between the worker, the task, the tools and equipment, and the work environment.

5. Hierarchy of Controls – Mitigate hazards to the fullest extent possible for a safe job site.

Controlling exposures to task specific hazards is the fundamental method of protecting employees. Using the hierarchy of controls as a means of determining how to implement feasible and effective control solutions will ensure a successful and sustainable hazard recognition program. All employees should be responsible for identifying hazards and using the hierarchy of controls to eliminate or control the hazard effectively for a safe job site. Control methods at the top of the graphic are more effective and protective than those at the bottom. Following the hierarchy of controls will lead to the implementation of inherently safer systems, where the risk of illness or injury will be substantially reduced.

Controlling Hazards Summary

  • Eliminate

    • Hazard

    • Risk

  • Reduce

    • Hazard Energy

    • Risk

    • Exposure

  • Protect

    • Consequence

The application of the hierarchy of controls should be followed for each hazard that is identified.


5. Hierarchy Application

  • Safety by Design

  • Defense in Depth

6. Provide Feedback and Continuous Monitoring - Supervisors and Managers shall conduct regular worksite analysis, which involves a variety of worksite examinations to identify not only existing hazards but also change in conditions and operations that might occur which could create error likely situations.

7. In-Field Coaching: Mentoring and Training in the field without losing productivity.

8. Increased Field Safety Observations

9. Review and Measure Results Annually – It’s important to identify strengths and weaknesses in a safety management system. Make appropriate improvements that were identified as weaknesses to strengthen and enhance the program each year.

10. Train and Implement Updated Hazard Recognition Program and continue the process yearly to ensure sustainability and continued reduction in hazards.

Total Organization Performance Improvement (TOPI)

  • Humans will always make mistakes; strive to reduce the frequency and lower the severity of errors.

  • Review and learn from past experiences to improve future performance.

Here is a sneak peak into the TOPI tool box to share a couple of TOPI tools that can help you identify, eliminate or reduce the risk associated with the hazards that you work with daily.  For more information on the TOPI tools contact Knowledge Vine at 225-778-7362 and let one of our Safety Consultants help you identify and overcome the hazards associated with your daily tasks on the job.

11. Self-Check -


  • Stop          Take a moment to focus and mentally prepare for what you are about to do.

  • Think         Consider the results of the intended action, verify the conditions are correct, and ensure you are ready to perform.

  • Act            Perform the action.

  • Review      Verify you received the expected results.

This is the most fundamental tool and can eliminate most errors.

12. Post Job Review -


  • Traps                     Traps that were not identified.

  • Organizational      Organizational weaknesses that were identified during the job. (LOWs)

  • Additional             Additional equipment, resources, or error defenses that would have improved performance.

  • Simplify                 Simplify the process by removing unnecessary steps or actions.

  • Tools                     Tools that were not used which would have improved job performance. This is primarily focused on TOPI tools but could refer to physical tools for doing the work.

OSHA compliance, in 2014, OSHA updated the power standards General Industry 1910.269(a)(2)(ii)(E) and Construction 1926.950(b)(2)(v). Employers shall recognize electrical hazards according to exposure and provide employees with the skills and techniques necessary to control or avoid these hazards.

The value of completing a JHA/Risk Assessment: 

  • Identifies hazards

  • Identifies ways to eliminate or reduce the risks

  • Fewer worker injuries/incidents

  • Shows effective work methods

  • Reduces Workers Compensation costs

  • Increases employee production

  • Valuable tool for training

  • Shows the steps required to perform the task safely

  • Options for controlling hazards

  • Provides documentation of training

For a JHA to be effective, management must demonstrate commitment to the safety and health of their employees and follow through to correct any identified uncontrolled hazards. Otherwise, management will lose credibility, and employees may hesitate to go to management when dangerous conditions exist.

To be successful your employees need to understand why things go wrong. Employers must provide the organizational and technical tools to know what is expected for each task such as a good job briefing. Supervisors must be taught how to give effective feedback – Not just told they have to give feedback. Employees must know how to recognize hazardous and error likely situations – Situational Awareness/Visual Triggers. Employees must be empowered to STOP work and seek help when things are not right – Trust workers experience and intuition.

A successful Hazard Recognition Program will set the performance standards, assist in standardizing operations based on acceptable safe work practices and personal protective equipment (PPE). In addition, the hazard recognition program will be sustainable to allow you to assess the risks (severity/probability) to reduce incidents and injury rates.