In the workplace, an essential role of management is to identify significant risks affecting the business and its employees. Companies engaged in the manufacturing or harvesting of harmful substances are at a high risk of health hazards.
A risk-based confined space medical assessment can help a company identify possible risks and respond to these risks promptly.
Further in this article, you will learn how to conduct simple risk assessment procedures to estimate the level of risk associated with confined spaces and appropriately respond to these risks through mitigating measures, such as respirator fit testing training course.
Risks can exist anywhere in the business. However, your role is not to identify all the risks. As good practice indicates, you must capture the risks that have a material effect on your business as a whole.
In identifying risks, you have to look at the following classifications of risks:
- Physical and Technological risks — it refers to risks mainly associated with labour, management, and application of technology. (e.g., human error, machine downtime, equipment failures, production delays, supplier delays, miscommunication, power outage)
- Chemical risks — it refers to the employees’ exposure to harmful chemicals and substances that could’ve been prevented if proper protective guidelines were in place (e.g. inhalation of toxic gases, spilling of hazardous chemicals in an employee’s bare skin etc.)
- Biological risks — it refers to the employees’ exposure to harmful pathogens within a confined space that could lead to a possible outbreak.
- Business risks — it refers to the business’ inability to continue in its operations in a normal manner due to regulatory changes (e.g. laws penalizing certain chemicals, strict government supervision, etc.)
Once you’ve identified the potential risk using a risk-based confined space medical assessment, you may decide how to respond to these risks. In responding to risks, you may either perform complementary or mitigating measures.
A complementary measure offsets the unavoidable risks associated with a certain task. A good example of an unavoidable risk is a power outage in a confined space. Power outages may cause oxygen supply to stop, and it may cause suffocation to the people inside. See more at Resile
The best complementary measure is to set-up an emergency oxygen supply within the confined space while waiting for the emergency power supply.
On the other hand, a mitigating measure reduces the impact of avoidable risks associated with a certain task. An example of an avoidable risk is the risk of exposure to harmful chemicals. The best mitigating measure is to let employees wear protective gears and suits.
In addition to that, fit testing services can be a mitigating measure for employees’ exposed to harmful gas emissions.
Risks cannot be eliminated, and you must be continually monitoring current and potential risks arising from business activities. Monitoring involves collection and documentation of past information to help the business establish a knowledge-base for current and future use.
Monitoring mainly involves system check-ups, periodic reviews, and ocular inspections. It may also involve occupational medical management as part of periodic reviews.
Hiring an expert
To help you assess the risks and appropriately respond to it, you may hire an expert to aid you in developing mitigating measures for identified risks. Hiring an expert is the best choice if you want a high assurance of risk reduction.
If you want expertise in confined space medical assessment and related fields, visit Resile at resile.com.au for more information about their services.