Worksite Analysis for Occupational Health Hazards

If you need a worksite health risk audit as discussed in this article, call us at 1-800-344-4414 or email us at info@atlenv.com for details and a free estimate.

 

Written By:  Robert E. Sheriff, MS, CIH, CSP, President

October 1, 2018

 

A work site analysis for occupational health hazards is more often referred to as a baseline Industrial Hygiene Survey or a Health Risk Audit.  This is the process of reviewing the activities, equipment, materials and methods in any occupational worksite for anything that could endanger the health of the individuals working there.

This worksite analysis will consider each aspect of the locations’ activities—not just getting a list of chemicals in use—that can result in an increased risk of an adverse health effect to employees.

These can be chemicals, biologicals, noise levels, work practices, ergonomics, personal protection, respiratory protection, training, recordkeeping, emergency response.

On the other hand, this baseline Occupational Health Audit should be part of the Facility or Corporate Health and Safety Plan (HASP).  Where the work activities occur at a construction site, a site specific Health and Safety Plan (HASP) should be developed.

The plans for a regular audit should be an integral part of the overall Health and Safety Plan of the Organization.  The extent of the occupational health elements of the Plan depends greatly upon the business activity.  If it is a chemical production or refining operation, the IH aspects will be significant.  If it is a warehouse, perhaps the strongest element of the plan should be safety.  If the facility is primarily administrative, the emphasis is placed upon indoor air quality.

There are two aspects for considering the health risk of a particular process or activity.  The first is:  What is the potential frequency of an event that could lead to an illness/injury? the second is:  What is the potential severity of an illness/injury that could result from a particular event?

For example:  a confined space where the residual material in a tank could deplete the oxygen to the extent that it could render a confined space entrant unconscious.  We know from confined space history, that the probable consequence could be death—in fact, two or more deaths.  The records shows if the proper programs, training, permits, qualified personnel and rescue are not in effect the consequences can be fatal.  This situation may be rare (low frequency) but the consequence could lead to death (high severity).

To perform an effective health risk audit, involves input not just by an Industrial Hygienist but the worker, (who performs the task) supervision, and management.  Management is often the missing element because the auditor and workers do not have the authority or responsibility to see that the necessary activities—and the budget—are put in place.

I have seen many good audits that achieve little because the auditors have the responsibilities to perform the task but have no authority to get done what is needed or they have no budget.

 

Our primary service areas to conduct work site health risk audits are:  NJ, NY, NYC, PA, CT, DE, (Boston) MA, RI, Wash DC, WI, MD, MI, (Chicago) IL, VA, IN, (Atlanta) GA, AL, NC, SC, TN, (Dallas, Ft Worth) TX, OK, DC, AR, we can service most other areas of the U.S. but with some added travel charges.