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So, realistically, how should a safety officer be spending their time and resources?

While staying concurrent with the latest and greatest in safety improvements is an important duty, time should still be set aside to simply stop, listen, and watch. This means blocking out a minimum of thirty minutes each week to observe a crew complete a workplace activity (e.g., splicing rope, stacking pallets, vibrating concrete, rigging loads, etc.) without any interruptions.

Setting aside this time will allow for you to clear your mind of distractions and focus on one thing and one thing alone: the existing hazards associated with that specific workplace activity.

While you observe, recall the top 10 OSHA Recordable Injuries (listed below) and consider how they might occur during this specific task:

  • Falls
  • Struck by/Against Injuries
  • Lifting/Overexertion
  • Transportation Accidents
  • Chemical Exposure
  • Workplace Violence
  • Caught-in/Compression Injuries
  • Slips and Trips
  • Repetitive Motion
  • Fires/Explosions

Once you have finished observing this specific workplace activity, create a list of both the most likely and worst possible accidents that could occur during that activity.

In order to determine the highest risk hazards on this list, rate the risks by both frequency and severity.

For example, if a worker has to step over a pipe rack once a year and the risk is bruising their knee, than this hazard would be put on the bottom of the list as the frequency and severity are low. Whereas, if a worker has to step over a fifty inch diameter opening with a sixty foot drop to the ground below twice a day, than this should be put on the top of the list as the exposure frequency and severity are both very high.

As money and resources are allocated to safety, the hazards at the top of your list should always be addressed first. A high risk item can typically be eliminated quickly by changing job site procedures or utilizing a pre-existing prevention method.

Each week, a different operation on your job site should be observed until all existing risks on your job site have been established.

If you have more questions regarding evaluating risks on your job site, please feel free to reach out to us at 1.800.466.6385 or via my email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..