Hazard Recognition, Assessment and Control

Hazard Recognition, Assessment and Control

Minimizing risk at work involves understanding the hazards a worker will be exposed to, and controlling those hazards.  The first step in this process is to identify hazards, and evaluate their risk potential.  Some tools that can be used to accomplish this include:

  • Job and Task Hazard Analysis
  • Project risk assessment

Job Hazard Analysis

A job hazard analysis involves the following steps:

  • List out all tasks of a particular job
  • Identify hazards for each task
  • Evaluate the risk of each task
  • Take action to eliminate or reduce risk for each hazard

This type of analysis is best used for jobs that are routine in nature or that involve a group of tasks that are consistently completed by an individual.  Some examples include:

  • Administrative Assistant
  • Machine operator in a manufacturing plant
  • Carpenter
  • Mill wright
  • Gas fitter
  • Landscaper

The Public Services Health and Safety Association (PHSA) has developed a very good fact sheet that outlines how to conduct a Job Hazard Analysis.  This can be found here: PHSA - Fast Facts about Job Hazard Analysis .

The worksheet below can help you to conduct a risk assessment:

Job hazard analysis form (.docx)

If the work involves lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling, or static postures (holding a position with effort for a prolonged period of time), you should also consider the ergonomics of the job.  This can be done by viewing the UW Ergonomics page which can be found using the following link:

Ergonomics Page

Project Risk Assessment

A Project Risk Assessment approach to Hazard Recognition, Assessment, and Control is best used for work that is non-routine in nature.  Examples of these types of occupations include:

  • Graduate Researcher
  • Postdoc Researcher
  • Faculty Members

The nature of work in a research setting requires individuals to adapt processes, work tasks, and equipment to suit their needs.  Work in these settings is difficult to assess using a JHA model, which is why it is best for researchers to conduct project risk assessments prior to commencing research work.

This involves, analyzing the materials, chemicals, and energy sources; the hazards associated with each of these parts of the process, and what measures will be taken to eliminate or reduce risk.

A worksheet that you can use to help guide you in completing your assessment can be found here.

General laboratory risk assessment form

Controlling Hazards

Once hazards have been identified and risks have been evaluated, it's time to implement controls.  The primary goal is to eliminate the hazard, but if this is not possible, you must take reasonable action to minimize risk of that hazard.

There are a wide variety of control types, each having a particular use.  Below is a differentiation between control types:

  • Description of the most effective to least effective control types.

    • Elimination - designing the hazard out
    • Substitution - use a less hazardous material or process
    • Engineering - Enclose, isolate, automate
    • Administrative Controls - Scheduling, SOPs, Training
    • PPE - respirators, gloves, safety goggles, etc...

The implementation of hazard controls is a management responsibility.  If you are supervising an area, you need to understand how to effectively eliminate and minimize hazards.  The link below will lead you to the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety's (CCOHS) site on Controls.  It provides a detailed review of what controls are most effective and strategies for implementing these controls.

Controls Fact Sheet

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

In many cases, you will need more than one control type to adequately minimize risk. This will involve using both Administrative controls, like SOPs and training, and Engineering controls like fume hoods, and machine guarding.  In fact, for high hazard processes and materials, the Safety Office requires that an SOP is developed and individuals receive hands-on training on the SOP, the process, and materials being used.

Examples of general processes and materials that require an SOP (this list is not exhaustive):

General Equipment

  • Table saw
  • Band saw
  • Lathe
  • Cement mixer
  • Snow blowers
  • Grass mowers
  • Chainsaws
  • Bucket trucks
  • Welding torches

General Processes

  • Mixing cement
  • Dry or wet cutting concrete
  • Working at heights
  • Hot work
  • Confined Space Entry
  • Type 1 and 2 Asbestos Removal
  • Welding
  • Lifting heavy materials

Chemicals and Materials

  • Acids
  • Caustic soda
  • Ammonia
  • Drain cleaner
  • Flammables
  • Compressed gases 

Examples of Laboratory Processes, Equipment and chemicals that require an SOP (this list is not exhaustive):

Laboratory Processes

  • Processes using nanomaterials
  • ​Processes using high pressures
  • Processes using high-voltage
  • Processes involving toxic, flammable, or corrosive chemicals
  • Emergency response specific to the lab

Laboratory Equipment


  • Compressed gases
  • Hydrofluoric acid
  • Highly oxidizing acids (nitric, chromic, )
  • Toxic chemicals
  • Pyrophoric chemicals
  • Flammable chemicals use in volumes > 500 mL

Preparing written procedures is a management responsibility, usually involving both workers/students and supervisors. It is important that the workers/students who actually perform the task also have an opportunity to contribute their ideas. They may have first-hand knowledge about how the task can be done better. And their participation will help them to understand the importance of following safe procedures.

Health and Safety Committees have a role to play in developing safe work procedures too. During inspections or the investigation of complaints, committee members may learn of hazards that are not adequately controlled by an existing procedure. A written procedure facilitates discussion of the issue and helps the committee to focus on the problem and make specific recommendations.

The link below is a template that can be used to create your Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).

Standard operating procedures form (.docx)

When Things Go Wrong! - Lessons Learned

The purpose of this part of the webpage is to examine past incidents and highlight the root cause of these incidents, and more importantly how they could have been prevented.  These are presented as a teaching tool for the campus community.