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A training strategy that involves all employees in workplace risk assessment.

Mallett-L; Brnich-MJ; Vaught-C
ICOH 2002 Oct; :83-84
Prevention of unsafe and unhealthy conditions in the workplace starts with defining and analyzing hazards. Although all hazards should be addressed, resource limitations usually do not allow this to happen all at once. Risk assessments are used to establish priorities so more dangerous situations are addressed first, leaving those less likely to endanger workers for later. Safety professionals can use elaborate risk assessment strategies, but time and resources limit these individuals in their ability to recognize all hazards in all parts of the operation. One way to expand a risk assessment program is to involve employees beyond the traditional safety staff. A model for site-wide risk assessment was developed and implemented by NIOSH researchers and safety professionals at Twentymile Coal Company. The risk assessment program was built on the underlying precept that everyone at a work site is responsible for emergency prevention and response. At the underground coalmine where the program was developed there are approximately 300 employees. There are two specially trained teams of volunteers. One is a fire brigade and the other is a mine rescue team. Team members were included in the program and employees who are not part of the special teams were also included as key participants. The risk assessment program was one portion of a larger prevention and response effort aimed at reducing fire risk. While the assessments at the test mine targeted fire, any hazard could be addressed with the system. The first step of the program focused on the fire brigade. These specially trained employees were taught basic risk assessment concepts and skills. The fire brigade conducted a mine-wide fire risk assessment and documented their priorities for prevention efforts. Their findings targeted certain areas of the mine and specific mine activities as high risk. They completed forms found in the training mentioned above and placed them in a notebook that was prioritized, with higher risk areas or tasks placed first. As these risks were addressed, the related form was shifted to the back of the notebook, and prevention efforts continued. The second step of the program involved training all employees in basic risk assessment. The earlier training and experience of the fire brigade was used in the creation of a brief training video. A fire brigade member introduced the concepts of likelihood and severity and explained that the fire brigade members were being trained to assess fire risk throughout the mine. The brief video was shown at pre-shift meetings to all employees. Later, at crew-level safety meetings, supervisors continued the theme by eading discussions about fire risks in their specific work areas. The safety talks included these questions: 1. List at least 5 sources of ignition in this work area. 2. From your list on question 1, which two sources are most likely to cause a fire? 3. From your list on question 1, which one source could cause the most severe fire? 4. For each of the sources of ignition listed in question 2, how can we make it less likely that a fire will start there? Supervisors or someone they designated gave the safety talks and documented the crews' answers. They submitted this information to the safety department. This activity resulted in lists of fire risks specific to each area of the mine, and means to reduce those risks. The risk assessment strategy enlists all employees in the task of identifying and prioritizing hazards. The strategy is implemented through training at two levels. The level fIrst targets special groups like supervisors, fire brigades, or other special teams. The second level is designed for use with all employees. Safety professionals analyze the results of both levels of assessment. The program was designed to focus on a given work site and a specific hazard. In this case, the hazard of fire was of interest, but any hazard could be targeted. During the implementation of the program, every employee was exposed to the concept of risk assessment and made aware of fire risks in his or her work area.
Work-environment; Workplace-monitoring; Occupational-exposure; Occupational-hazards; Emergency-response; Fire-fighting; Mining-industry; Injury-prevention; Risk-analysis
Publication Date
Document Type
Abstract; Conference/Symposia Proceedings
Fiscal Year
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Research Tools and Approaches: Control Technology and Personal Protective Equipment
Source Name
Best Practices in Occupational Safety and Health, Education, Training, and Communication: Ideas That Sizzle, 6th International Conference, Scientific Committee on Education and Training in Occupational Health, ICOH, In Cooperation with The International Communication Network, ICOH, Baltimore, Maryland, USA, October 28-30, 2002
Page last reviewed: April 12, 2019
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division