Hazard Identification

Being aware of on-site risks is vital. Before doing any work, take a few minutes to check your surroundings. Think about what you will be doing, what equipment and plant you will need, how you could get hurt and what you’ll do if something unexpected happens. Asking yourself these seven simple questions is a good place to start - it could be a life saver.

1. Can I come into contact with an energy source?

Death and serious injury can occur from exposure to electrical hazards on construction sites. The harsh conditions on many construction sites can damage electrical equipment and cables, and reduce their lifespan.

Check electrical equipment has been tested and tagged and make sure there is no risk of hitting anything that could electrocute you, such as overhead powerlines, hidden or underground live cables.

2. Can I come into contact with a hazardous substance?

Used incorrectly, hazardous substances can cause catastrophic accidents, such as fires and explosions, and serious harm to people who are exposed to them. Examples of some common hazardous substances include: fuels, paints, solvents and cleaning products.

You can be exposed by breathing them in, through your skin or by swallowing/ingesting them. Exposure can cause: death, cancer, damage to your internal organs like the liver and kidneys, and fertility problems.

3. Can I be struck by or strike against anything?

Think about your surroundings, the other contractors on site and how you might be hurt by things like:

  • Being trapped between a vehicle/plant and a structure
  • Vehicles/plant colliding with each other or a structure
  • Items that fall off vehicles/plant (unsecured or unstable loads)
  • Falling from a vehicle/plant

4. Can I be caught in, on or between anything?

Tools, plant and vehicles can create serious hazards. Even if you use them every day, it’s important to think about how they can hurt you as they are some of the most serious hazards on site.

Some things to watch out for are:

  • Mechanical failure
  • Operator error
  • Incorrect/lack of guarding
  • Being trapped by vehicles or plant
  • Environmental conditions
  • Poor design

5. Can I slip, trip or fall on the same or lower level?

You can be seriously injured, even if you only fall a short distance.Watch out for things like:

  • Trip hazards (e.g. loose cables, mess on the floor)
  • Uncovered excavations
  • Unsecured covers
  • Uneven surfaces
  • Slippery surfaces
  • Working at height (e.g. ladders, scaffolds, cherry pickers etc.)
  • Using harnesses incorrectly or without the right training or supervision

6. Can I be injured by poor job/plant design?

Take time to plan your work and make sure you have the right tools and equipment for the job. Speak up if you see someone else doing something unsafe, cutting corners or using the wrong tool for the job.Look out for:

  • New tools or plant with different controls
  • Operator positioning and poor visibility
  • Lack of training
  • Non-compliant equipment
  • Poorly maintained tools, and wear and tear of older tools
  • Tools not being used for their intended purpose
  • Equipment that does not comply to New Zealand standards

7. Can I strain or sprain a muscle?

You are most at risk from manual handling injuries when:

  • A load is too heavy, it’s difficult to grasp, or it’s too large
  • The physical effort is too strenuous
  • They are required to bend and twist when handling heavy loads
  • The task is repetitive

If you see anything unsafe after asking yourself these seven questions, speak up and/or take action to eliminate or minimise the risk.

Keep health and safety top of mind at your workplace – download our free 7 Point Analysis poster.

For courses related to identifying hazards, click here.

picture of seven point poster