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Hazard Identification

What are the requirements for identifying and assessing hazards?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) establish requirements for identifying and controlling hazards. Employers (University supervisors) are required to:

  • provide a written hazard assessment, including a risk assessment and identification of methods used to control or eliminate the hazards;
  • make the hazard assessments available to workers who may be exposed to the hazards;
  • involve workers in assessing the hazards and communicate the results to all involved workers; and
  • use the accepted hierarchy of controls in selecting control methods (first elimination of the hazard if possible, followed by engineering controls, then administrative controls and, as a last resort, personal protective equipment).

What processes are in place to assist with hazard identification and assessment?

The Dean, Director or Department Head has ultimate accountability for ensuring that the hazard assessment and control process is completed in their area of responsibility. This is normally delegated to supervisors who are more directly involved in supervising the day to day operations, and are often in the best position to implement the process.

Staff participation in this process is encouraged, as those performing the tasks are usually aware of potential hazards and make effective suggestions for controlling the hazards.

What is the employee's role in hazard identification and assessment?

Employees who perform work tasks regularly are seen as the best resource for identifying and controlling hazards. For this reason, employees are key contributors to the hazard assessment process. When requested by their supervisors, employees are required to participate in the hazard assessment process by sharing their knowledge and experience related to work tasks. All employees are required to review the completed hazard assessments, and to make suggestions or modifications as appropriate.

What should an employee do when they notice a hazard?

It is both a legal responsibility and a University policy requirement to report hazards as soon as they are noticed. This enables the University to proactively control the hazardous situation or action to prevent injury or illness. There are several mechanisms available to report hazards. First, report the hazard to your direct supervisor, who has accountability to correct the situation or refer it on to appropriate departments for correction.

Another reporting route is through the Environmental Health and Safety department.

If the hazard is created by a physical/environmental condition, you may report the condition via the FIXX system to Physical Plant for correction.

If a hazard results in a security threat, contact Campus Security at 276-6656.

If a hazard is of a highly specialized nature (biological hazard, chemical hazard, radiation hazard etc.), contact Environment, Health & Safety at 276-6427 (or at 276-6611 during off-hours or emergency).

What is the procedure if an employee wants to refuse work based on the hazard?

Workers have the right to refuse to perform the work in question or operate the equipment which may create an imminent danger with no threat of disciplinary action. In exercising this right, the worker is required to notify the supervisor as soon as practicable about the refusal, and accept temporary reassignment to other work while the situation is being investigated or corrected. Any worker who believes they are in imminent danger should report this to their supervisor and contact Environmental Health & Safety.

Last modified: December 12, 2008
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