What is a “Hazard”?
A “hazard” is a potential source of damage, injury, or harm to a person or thing. “Risk” describes the likelihood of a hazard actually producing harm based on the circumstances.
To illustrate the difference between hazard and risk, imagine a winter scene. The cold temperature presents a hazard in that it can cause a person to suffer hypothermia or frost bite. The risk that these outcomes will occur depend on the severity of the cold, the length of time a person is exposed and the warmth of the clothing worn by the person. In this scenario, the hazard remains the same but the risk is significantly lowered if the person limits their exposure and dresses appropriately.
While formal inspections are carried out by different groups on campus, informal inspections take place whenever a person is keeping out an eye out for hazards in their area. For example, if a person were to walk into a cluttered office, they would most likely be aware of the tripping hazard present, without consciously performing an “inspection”.
We ask that you be aware of your surroundings and report hazards when you become aware of them.
Types of Hazards
Laboratory and Workshop Hazards
Laboratories and workshops are unique environments with unique hazards. Common laboratory hazards include chemicals, glassware, poor housekeeping, etc… Depending on the type of laboratory, there may also be biohazards, radiation hazards and others. More information on laboratory hazards can be found on the “Working in a Lab” program page.
The main hazards in workshops are related to the tools and equipment in use. These are most likely to produce a physical hazard. Housekeeping is also incredibly important when tools that produce dust are used. More information on workshop hazards can be found on the “Working in a Workshop” program page.
Slip, Trip, Fall Hazards
Slip, trip, fall hazards are the most common in all areas. Uneven ground, clutter, rain, ice, inappropriate footwear and inattention are all contributors to slip, trip, fall injuries and incidents.
Contact the Facilities Management & Planning Service Center if you come across a walkway or road that requires attention.
Submit a Good Catch Report for all other slip, trip, fall hazards.
Resources and information on slip, trip, fall prevention can be found here.
Fire prevention is taken very seriously at Carleton University. Fire hazards include: blocked exit passages (egress routes), excessive clutter near electrical outlets or heat-producing equipment, missing or damaged exit signage, damage to fire suppression system, and using unsafe extension cords.
Fire Safety Awareness training is available to anyone at Carleton who wishes to learn more about fire prevention.
Fire hazards should be correctly immediately, if possible, or reported to the Fire Prevention Coordinator as a Good Catch.
Hazards that are identified in your work area should be reported to your supervisor immediately. If the hazard lies outside of your, or your supervisor’s control, the hazard should be reported to Environmental Health & Safety as a Good Catch through CU WorkSafe.
Hazard and Risk Management
A hierarchy of control measures is used to minimize the risk of injury or illness. If the first measure is unsuccessful, the next is used or added until the risk is lowered to an acceptably safe level.
Hazard Elimination. This the first measure taken, if possible. By removing the hazard completely, we remove the risk of harm. Unfortunately, this is often not possible.
Hazard Substitution. If the hazard cannot be eliminated, a less hazardous substitution is sought. This could be using a less dangerous chemical or material that would produce the same desired effect.
Isolation. Isolating the hazard involves making the hazard inaccessible. For example, noisy equipment could be removed from the working area and enclosed in a sound isolating room.
Engineering Controls. This type of control measure places a barrier between the person and the hazard. At Carleton, the most commonly used engineering controls are fume hoods and machine guarding. Learn more about ventilation systems on campus.
Administrative Controls. These include training, the development of standard operating procedures, policies, and other “rules” that reduce the risk of harm. Workers at Carleton University are required to complete Worker Health & Safety Awareness Training. Depending on the individual’s work, additional training may be required before beginning work (e.g. LabSafety, BioSafety, WHMIS, etc…). This mandatory training is a form of administrative control.
Personal Protective Equipment. PPE is used when all of the above control measures were insufficient to lower the risk to an acceptable level of safety. PPE includes gloves, protective clothing (e.g. lab coats, coveralls), hearing protection, respiratory protection, etc… Learn more about personal protective equipment.