Identifying Hazards and Assessing Risk

Identifying and managing hazards and risks is one of the key foundations of good health safety and wellbeing. University of Canterbury encourages a proactive and robust culture to identify and manage risks and hazards. Everybody has a role to play.

Hazards are managed in a way that is proportional to the risk that they represent. Most effort needs to be spent on managing hazards that represent the greatest risk.

See:   Controlling Hazards and Keeping a Risk Register

          University of Canterbury Protocol: Risk Management

The difference between a hazard and a risk

The terms Hazard and Risk are sometimes used interchangeably.

  • A hazard is something that can cause harm e.g. accumulation of dust in a workshop
  • A risk is the chance that the hazard will cause harm e.g. the chance that the dust will be inhaled, or ignite and cause an explosion or fire

The University has a general duty to identify and manage hazards. Hazards that give rise to work health and safety risks may be acute or may be chronic. Hazards need to be eliminated “as far as is reasonably practical”. 

Identifying hazards

Hazards may be identified during the course of daily work activities. Hazards may also be identified as part of a regular assessment of the work environment, ergonomic assessments, or as part of establishing safe operating procedures. At times a Hazard Alert will be issued to raise awareness of new hazards identified.  

Students and visitors to the University of Canterbury should alert Security if they become aware of any general hazards.

Assessing Risk

Assessing the risk of a hazard is usually done by determining the likelihood of an event occurring and the consequences of that event. Typically these are displayed on a matrix and the risk assessment score is derived from these two factors.

Risk Matrix

RMSS uses this type of risk assessment. If a hazard is unable to be eliminated, then the controls need to be adequate in minimising the risk. This assessment of risk associated with a hazard it typically done before and then again after the controls are applied, to ensure the residual risk is acceptable.

University of Canterbury offers regular Training on Risk Management. If you require assistance with working through hazard identification or risk management contact your Department Safety Officer or the Health and Safety Team

Link to RMSS


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