Greencap's Newcastle office covers three main areas, occupational hygiene, hazardous material and work health and safety. Each area helps a wide range of industries within Newcastle, including rail services, manufacturing and even sewage plants.
Mark Reggers, Occupational Hygienist at Greencap's Newcastle office explains the importance of understanding the extent of risk to accurately takes steps to prevent it.
Why undergo risk assessment?
He explains that while a hazard can be identified, such as dust or excessive noise, it is important to determine what the level is.
In order to quantify the risk level, monitoring and assessment can allow a clearer picture to be reached. For a hazard such as dust, there are different levels that require various responses.
Every situation is different but most often a number of different controls are used in conjunction to reduce the risk. A combination of engineering controls (local exhaust ventilation), administration controls (worker rotation) and PPE (respirator) may be suitable for a dust generating process.
In respiratory situations, it is particularly important to understand what the level of risk is. Preventing respiratory risks is a significant WHS concern but Mark warns that it is also important not to over protect the risk. Failing to assess and understand the risk level can lead to hazards being over protected. This can lead to a general nuisance for workers and even adversely impact productivity and morale.
Understanding if the measures you have employed are working is essential to facilitate a safe workplace.
In some instances, this may require further investigation of controls which may involve assessments of hazard levels such as dust, noise, gases or mould. This is critical if determining if the processes that have been implemented are effective and if further controls are required.
For example, when employing PPE against a respiratory risk, it is important that the masks undergo fit testing. this can determine whether it fits the worker properly and creates an adequate seal. Through thorough risk assessment, you can ensure your processes are fulfilling the intent behind the responsive action.
In terms of hazardous material, many Australians are unaware of the prevalence of asbestos in many building materials. Furthermore, any structure built before asbestos was outlawed may contain fibrous traces.
Mark explains that once identified, asbestos can be managed. However, the risk level rises when a when a building owner or manager is unaware of its presence in a building.
Knowing the environment gives you the best chance of effectively managing the risk. In terms of hazardous material such as asbestos or mould, engaging experts who are experienced can help identify a risk you may be unaware of.
Many hazards are easy to miss when it is not your field of expertise. Using a specialist service can bring to light hazards you were not aware of and ensure the responsive action is appropriate for the level of risk.
What are the implications of failing to create a safe work environment?
Failing to facilitate health and safety work processes can have serious legal and financial consequences. More importantly, this can negatively affect employee health and wellbeing.
"It's the ripple effect from that single injury. It's the family, the kid, the ability to provide," explains Mark.
"Those are the bigger costs to society. It's these people who pay the price so if you see a hazard, say something because it's just not worth it."
How can Greencap help?
Greencap's Newcastle office can help your business undertake a risk assessment in a wide range of areas. Furthermore, we can review and audit internal policies be it confined space or traffic management plans.
Once the risk level has been adequately understood, we can create a system of policies as well as customised training if necessary. A particular hazard such as lead or mould requires a tailored package that fits the needs of your site.