Identifying Hazards and Assessing Risk in California Workplaces


According to the National Safety Council, last year alone, over four million workplace injuries required medical attention in the U.S.

At Hanning & Sacchetto, LLP, our Whittier workers’ compensation attorneys know the leading causes of nonfatal workplace injuries are not always the same year after year. In fact, they can change rapidly by industry.

Identifying hazards and risks can help mitigate these circumstances in workplaces throughout California, no matter the city, industry, or employee’s position.

Here are a few tips for hazard identification and risk assessment that can help keep you and your coworkers safe.

How is Hazard Identification Connected to Risk Assessment?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration classifies hazard identification as part of the process used to evaluate if any particular workplace situation, item, or thing may have the potential to cause harm.

Hazard identification is often used to describe the full process of risk assessment, which includes:

  • Identifying hazards and risk factors that have the potential to cause harm.
  • Analyzing and evaluating the risk associated with that hazard.
  • Determining appropriate ways to eliminate the hazard or control the risk when the hazard cannot be eliminated.

One of the major causes of workplace incidents, injuries, and illnesses is the failure to identify or recognize hazards that are present, or that could have been anticipated.

A critical element to keeping employees safe is being proactive in identifying and assessing such hazards.

How Can California Employers and Employees Proactively Assess Hazards in the Workplace?

While some professions, like construction or agricultural work, may have inherent dangers, whether you work in an office, warehouse, factory, restaurant, or retail store in California, your work environment may contain hazards that can significantly impact your well-being.

To identify and assess hazards, both employers and employees must be proactive and:

  • Collect and review information about the hazards present or likely to be present in the workplace.
  • Conduct initial and periodic workplace inspections to identify new or recurring hazards.
  • Investigate injuries, illnesses, incidents, and close calls/near misses to determine the underlying hazards, their causes, and safety and health program shortcomings.
  • Group similar incidents and identify trends in injuries, illnesses, and hazards reported.
  • Consider hazards associated with emergency or nonroutine situations.

Taking a deep look into the workplace and the overall environment can help employers and employees collect information, inspect the premises for safety hazards, and identify any potential issues before they cause significant injuries, illnesses, or fatalities.

Checklists Can Help Highlight Potential Hazards in California Workplaces

While each industry will have its own version of a checklist for identifying potential hazards, some of the most common things to look for when assessing risks remain the same.

They may include, but are not limited to:

  • Electrical Hazards
  • Equipment Maintenance
  • Equipment Operation
  • Ergonomic Problems
  • Fire Protection
  • General Housekeeping
  • Lack Of Emergency Procedures
  • Slip, Trip, and Fall Hazards
  • Work Organization and Process Flow
  • Work Practices
  • Workplace Violence

Risk is the product of hazard and exposure, which can be controlled — or even eliminated — by reducing workers’ exposure to hazards.

If you have suffered an injury at work, whether the hazard was foreseeable or not, contact our skilled workers’ compensation attorneys in Whittier, California at Hanning & Sacchetto today by calling (562) 698-6446 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your legal rights and options to pursue the benefits you may be entitled to from your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance coverage. Please contact our Whittier personal injury attorneys for more legal help.

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