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Has your workplace carefully considered all the existing and potential hazards and exposures associated with your industry? Have previously overlooked hazards been uncovered when an incident was investigated? Ensure that your workplace is operating at the absolute highest level of safety with our guide to hazard analysis and risk assessment in the workplace.

Personal protective equipment is an imperative for work that exposes workers to hazardous chemicals, particulate matter that can be inhaled, or equipment that can cause injury. Organizations and private practices nationwide trust MediDent Supplies for their PPE.

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Occupational hazards and hazard analysis

An occupational hazard is a potential for harm in the workplace. Hazards can be environmental conditions, material agents, or certain activities that have the potential to result in injury or illness for workers, or damage to property.

Job hazard analysis in the workplace

A hazard analysis is the first step to assess risk in the workplace. A job hazard analysis can be conducted in any setting, but should be prioritized in workplaces with high rates of injury or illness, work that has the potential to cause a severe accident, or complex jobs that have frequently-changing protocols.

  1. Describe each action or task being performed.
    1. Break the work activity into as many individual tasks as possible.
    2. Describe what is being done, and why.
  2. Identify the hazard(s) associated with each task.
  3. Include any near-miss history for each task.
  4. Create a checklist to structure each task to be included in worker training.

For more information on job hazard analysis, see the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Guide to Job Hazard Analysis.

Risk assessment in the workplace

Risk assessment determines the likelihood that a previously identified occupational hazard will result in injury, illness, or property damage. Considering the risk of potential hazards will help to determine how your organization can most effectively mitigate that risk.

Risk is determined using a scale that compares “probability of occurrence” and “severity of consequences.” Using this kind of scaling, hazard risk rating is calculated as follows:

Risk Rating = Probability of Occurrence x Severity of Consequences

According to this method, the higher the predicted probability of occurrence and the more severe the potential consequences, the higher the risk will be. For more information on calculating risk ratings, see OSHA’s Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs.

Controlling risk

The ideal method of risk control is to eliminate a hazard completely. However, in most cases, the hazard cannot be totally eliminated and must be mitigated through substitution, administrative controls, and/or personal protective equipment.

Substitution

If possible, substitute less dangerous material agents in place of more hazardous ones. For example, lead-based paint can be replaced with lead-free paint to eliminate risk of lead poisoning.

Administrative Controls

Another form of risk control is intervening through administrative controls, which are constraints or rules that affect the way in which work is performed. Examples of administrative controls could be company policies, training standards, or revisions to standard operating procedures.

Personal protective equipment

After a through hazard analysis and risk assessment has been conducted in the workplace, PPE is the next line of defense. PPE is equipment worn by a worker to protect them from specific workplace hazards. Examples of PPE include respirators, gloves, masks, face shields, medical gowns, and eye protection.

Worker involvement

Involving workers in a PPE implementation program will allow for smoother operation and better compliance. Those who will wear the PPE must be educated and trained on its proper use. When individual workers are involved in the selection of specific models, they are more likely to wear the items correctly and consistently.

How to select PPE

Base decisions on a thorough risk assessment, worker acceptance, and the types of PPE available. Both the degree of protection required and the practicality of the PPE design for the setting must factor into this decision because both will contribute to its overall effectiveness.

Discuss your workplace’s needs with a trained representative who can help you select the best PPE for workers. Be sure to ask for alternative solutions and research any selling point product claims. Speak with a MediDent Supplies Account Manager today to determine which PPE is right for your needs.

When PPE is uncomfortable, ill-fitting, or unnecessarily tiresome, workers will be much less likely to use it. Whenever possible, provide flexibility in the choice of PPE available so that workers can have a say in the device(s) they wear.

When the PPE has been selected, emphasis should be put on ensuring that the items fit correctly. Each worker must be shown how to determine proper fit individually.

Education and training should cover why the protection is important, fitting guidelines, any adjustments that can be made, and care for the items. Workers who will use the PPE regularly and others who might be exposed on an occasional basis should all attend the training.

Help keep your workplace safe by doing a thorough hazard analysis and risk assessment in the workplace, and by choosing MediDent Supplies, an FDA-registered medical device importer and trusted supplier of PPE for thousands of customers. Browse our masks and NIOSH-certified respirators or visit the PPE shop to find everything you need in one place.

For more resources, visit OSHA’s full guide to PPE.