If you have completed your IOSH Managing Safely course and are facing the task of completing your project you should take extra care in identifying your activity hazards.
There are of course points for all of the hazard types in the project but in part 2 for example, if you fail to correctly identify a location hazard you would lose 5 points for each incorrect hazard type. In part 4 if you fail to correctly identify an activity hazard you will lose 4 points from part 4, 9 points from part 5 and 9 points from part 6. That’s 22 points per incorrect hazard type.
In my experience this is the part of the project that most people have a problem with as people struggle to differentiate between location, equipment, substance and activity hazards, especially as some tasks present all of these hazards types.
If we look at painting a room with paint brushes for example:
- the paint may cause irritation to the respiratory tract – a substance hazard
- the bright lighting may reflect on the wet paint causing glare and eye strain – a location hazard
- the poor condition of the paintbrush, let’s say the metal part has a burr causing potential cuts – an equipment hazard
- the constant up and down motion of the arm using the brush causing repetitive strain injury – an activity hazard
Location hazards are quite easy to identify. If there is a hazard in one space that you could not simply transfer to another space it is likely a location hazard. Lighting conditions for example, are normally specific to a location. It would not be easy to transfer these conditions to another space. Even if you moved the lights to a different room it does not mean that the lighting condition in the new space would be the same as in the old space. Floor condition and temperature are other good examples of causes of location hazards. It can get more complicated. Let’s consider using a product that is in every day domestic use, furniture polish. Some of these polishes contain solvents, which in high enough concentrations can cause considerable harm. I know what you are thinking; this is a substance hazard, right? Many people use furniture polish and under normal circumstances we are at little or no risk as the polish dissipates easily but what if, as part of our work process, we had to use a solvent containing polish in a poorly ventilated confined space. Is the hazard presented by the polish (substance) or the nature of the location?
Most people have no trouble in identifying equipment and substance hazards so I won’t labour the point. Activity hazards cause more problems for people. If you are looking for an activity hazard consider this, if I undertake this task in another place does the hazard go away? If it does it is probably a location hazard. If I undertake this task using different equipment does the hazard go away? If it does it is probably an equipment hazard. Drilling a hole can present activity hazards such as upper limb disorders from having to work in awkward positions but electricity or entanglement are equipment hazards. You could eliminate the electricity hazard by using air tools or a bit brace and pinion hand drill, you could reduce the likelihood of entanglement by using guards, equipment changes but if you must drill these holes in this material, which causes the need to work in an awkward position, it doesn’t matter which room you are working in or what you are using to drill the holes the hazard would remain because it is presented by the activity. Working at height and manual handling provide some good examples of activity hazards too.
One poor example that I have seen of an activity hazard is ‘using a grinding wheel’. This is clearly an activity that poses a number of hazards but ‘using a grinding wheel’ is not a hazard. The hazards posed by using a grinding wheel might include the effects of vibration – an equipment hazard, being hit by fragments of a broken grinding disc – an equipment hazard, not being able to see what you are doing due to poor lighting causing you to come into contact with the wheel – a location hazard or back ache due to stooping – an activity hazard.
If you are working on your IOSH project I wish you good luck and I hope that you get the result that you deserve. I also hope that this has helped but if you would like a little more help with your project you can get it from our IOSH Managing Safely Project Guide. It’s free so even if you think that you have got the idea by now it’s still worth looking at anyway.
Next you can download complete solution guide for your project…
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