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Hazard Identification and Assessment


Hazard Identification and Assessment is the principal means by which process errors can be reduced or eliminated. The planning process for for hazard identification and assessment will ensure that personnel injuries, releases to the environment, property damage and lost productivity will be eliminated or reduced to a negligible level.

The University has established requirements for identifying and controlling hazards to ensure the safety of personnel are enhanced and to meet various requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. The Employer (Principal Investigator) is expected to:

  • Provide a written hazard assessment, including a risk assessment and identification of methods used to control or eliminate the hazards.
  • Involve students and co-researchers in assessing the hazards and communicate the results to all of those involved.
  • Make the hazard assessments available to students and other researchers who may be exposed to the hazards.
  • 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).


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 Principal Investigators who are more directly involved in the research and are often in the best position to implement the process. The researcher may choose to delegate this responsibility to a post doctoral or graduate student but the responsibility for the assessment and implementation remains with the Principal Investigator.

Participation by others involved in the research is highly recommended, as those performing the tasks are usually aware of potential hazards and make effective suggestions for controlling the hazards. EH&S is available to provide training and guidance for whomever is responsible for performing the hazard assessment. A number of standardized templates and examples are available for use in performing the assessments. The hazard assessment process should be reviewed annually and revised when any changes are made to procedures or materials.

Researcher Responsibility

The PI’s responsibilities related to this process are to:

  • Implement the hazard assessment and control process and perform/participate in hazard assessments.
  • Administer the system for maintaining hazard assessment and control records.
  • Ensure that hazard assessments and control options are communicated to all affected workers, researchers and students.
  • Approve and implement recommendations from the hazard assessments/control forms.
  • Ensure students and affected co-researchers using hazard control measures are properly trained.
  • Review and update hazard assessment and control form at least annually. These forms should also be reviewed post-accident or if new equipment or a process is introduced to the work area.
Last modified: March 27, 2008
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