Although the IOSH Managing Safely project is based on the risk assessment process it isn’t a risk assessment. During any normal risk assessment assessors wouldn’t normally need to differentiate between location, equipment, substance and location hazards. In the project you do. This is because the project is intended to confirm your understanding of the risk assessment process. If you are unable to understand what is causing the problem how could you possibly be expected to control it?

For the purpose of the IOSH Managing Safely project the activity hazards in part 4 are the most important because these are the hazards that will be taken forward into part 5 & 6. So, what are activity hazards? They are hazards related to the “doing”. Stay away from describing problems with equipments etc such as “heavy”, “reflective” or “sharp”. Activities that cause problems are things like doing something repetitively or for prolonged periods. Stooping, twisting and over reaching can be activity hazards too.

Let’s say that we have people using computers to manipulate data (the activity). we might describe the hazard as being inputting data for prolonged periods without breaks, which we could go on to describe as “in putting data” (the hazard) for prolonged periods without breaks (the hazardous event) causing eye strain and headaches (consequence). An appropriate control for such a situation might be to impose frequent breaks and you could monitor this with software.

Perhaps we have people unloading vans by hand. The activity might be unloading boxes of widgets from delivery panel vans. To do this we get a number of people in a line from the back doors of the van to the warehouse. They pass the boxes down the line. Unloading a large number of boxes might be the hazard, to pass the boxes down the line the handlers twist through approximately 180˚ repetitively (the hazardous event), which could cause lower back injuries (consequence). There are many ways to control manual handling hazards but the best way is to avoid the manual handling task. Could we get the supplier to palletise the orders so that we can unload using a fork lift? If the order can’t be palletised perhaps we could use a roller bed/conveyor system. Don’t forget that if you eliminate the hazard (from manual handing in this example) there is no residual risk (from manual handling). You might check that the fork lift truck or roller beds are being used during safety tours.

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