Step 3: Identify Risks and Hazards

Why Identify Hazards and Assess Risk?

Before an organization can take positive steps to minimize injury, damage or loss, it must identify and understand the driving-related hazards their employees face. It also needs to know who is exposed to the hazards, why, when and how often exposure occurs and the magnitude of potential or probable consequences. With that knowledge, an organization can establish priorities for action.

This section provides a tool and method that combines road safety hazards and factors that contribute to driving-related risks. These enable you to identify specific issues and general areas where the organization has the greatest exposure to risk. With an understanding of the potential consequences of exposure to those hazards and their associated costs (e.g. injured worker, lost production, property damage, loss of reputation, etc.) an employer can see where to focus their efforts to implement risk management activities. In Step 4, users will apply these priorities to develop strategies to manage risk.

Tip: Because resources are limited, it makes sense to focus on high priority hazards. But, don’t neglect opportunities to address lower priority issues too. Capitalize on achieving a few easy “quick wins”.

Hazards, Risks and Consequences

To keep the references consistent, we apply the following definitions:

Hazard - any source of potential damage, harm or injury to something or someone under certain conditions.
Hazards can be an object (loose wheel nut), substance (carbon monoxide, alcohol), material (gravel surface), energy (your vehicle, or an oncoming vehicle), condition (fatigued driver, slippery roads), process (overloading vehicle, insufficient driver training) or practice (speeding, following too close, not wearing a seatbelt).

Risk Factor – a condition or circumstance that suggests a higher probability or increased chance of a negative outcome (for example, a vehicle crash); a variable associated with increased risk. A risk factor is not necessarily causal; its presence does not make certain a negative outcome will occur. However, past results and/or research indicate there is correlation between the presence of the risk factor and a greater likelihood the outcome will occur.

Risk - the chance, probability or likelihood that a person will be harmed or experience an adverse health effect if exposed to a hazard; the likelihood of property damage, injury or loss.

Consequence - the result or associated outcome of an event, exposure or circumstances.

For other useful definitions, visit our Definitions page.

Identifying Hazards

Look across your organization and consider all of the circumstances in which employees operate a vehicle. The driving environment is dynamic – weather, road conditions and traffic changes often during the day. Nonetheless, each circumstance presents hazards that employers must recognize. One way to approach this is to separate hazards into three categories: those posed by the driver (fatigue, distraction, or skill limitations), the vehicle (sub-standard equipment or maintenance), and the journey (road, weather or traffic conditions).Use that framework to compile a list of hazards.

If you have completed a status review, you have likely already identified several key hazards. Check to see what key issues and priorities those results indicate. If you have not done a status review, take a few minutes to do so now.

The next step is to complete the road safety risk assessment. This tool incorporates many (but not all) of the common driving-related hazards and describes Risk Factors.

Assign a “High”, “Medium”, “Low” or “Unknown” score to each Risk Factor based on evaluation criteria. By looking at each of the individual scores and considering the proportion of Risk Factors that were scored “High”, you can identify the most significant driving-related hazards and risks in your workplace. Risk Factors that you scored “High” should be your top priority. Don’t forget there may be easy solutions you can implement for medium or low priority hazards, and demonstrate early progress.

Then use those high-scoring risk factors to populate the Risks and Hazards Worksheets in the next step.

Note: Look back at any Risk Factors that you scored as “Unknown”. It’s not safe to assume “Unknowns” are “Low” risk factors. Before finalizing your priorities, enlist the help of others to assign a real score to these risk factors.

The Risks and Hazards Worksheet will help you compile a list of the most significant occupational road safety hazards and risks for your organization. Read the Worksheet Instructions first and review the Sample Worksheet.

This worksheet is the first of three. It can be used online or printed off. You will need to log in to access the worksheets. Select Worksheets, and follow the instructions. If you complete this worksheet online, the information will automatically forward to the next worksheet, Develop Strategies. All saved information is confidential and secure and will be available to you and only to you for future sessions.

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