As a worker, your role in controlling hazards lies in reporting them
to your supervisor and if necessary, refusing to work until the hazard is
investigated and resolved.
It's your supervisor's and employer's job to take
action to control hazards by doing things like installing guards, changing
procedures or providing safety training. You can make suggestions, but
never take it upon yourself to make these types of changes. You may be
injured or get in trouble for doing work that you weren't asked to do.
Remember, it's part of your employer's job to protect you.
Hazards should be eliminated if at all possible, For example, if a hazardous
chemical can be replaced with a non-hazardous product, then it should be. If a
hazard can't be eliminated, then it has to be controlled to reduce the risk of
injury or illness. There are three typical ways of controlling hazards.
Physical or engineering controls involve redesigning the source of the hazard. Some examples are:
- adding metal guards to prevent hands from touching a saw blade
- ventilating a work area to remove toxic vapours
- creating systems that prevent machines from starting when a worker is servicing them.
Operational or administrative controls set rules for how people work with
or around hazards. These are the do's and don'ts workers must follow. They are often
called 'safe work practices or procedures'. Procedures could include job rotation
so that no one is working at one task for a prolonged period of time.
Personal protective equipment and facilities are used to protect workers
from hazards that can't be fully controlled any other way. For instance:
- safety glasses to protect eyes from flying debris
- eye wash stations near work areas where hazardous chemicals are used
- use of respirators to ensure hazardous fumes are not inhaled
- hearing protection for noisy environments.