Tool Kit

Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment

Identifying driving hazards and assessing and managing risks are keys to crash and injury prevention. They’re also part of an employer’s responsibilities for driver health and safety. Learn how organizations of all sizes can use our tools to spot hazards their drivers face and then rate and reduce the risks.


Identifying hazards

Driving for work may be the most dangerous thing your employees do in their job, even if they’re only on the road occasionally. Before you can reduce driving-related risks, you need to understand what could contribute to drivers being injured. These are called hazards. And hazard identification is the first step in crash prevention.

What are hazards?

A road safety hazard is any potential source of driver or passenger injury, or vehicle damage. Speeding, distractions, slippery roads, poor visibility, and worn-out tires or windshield wipers are just a few examples.

Identifying hazards is part of an employer’s health and safety responsibilities. You need to identify the most common ones your drivers encounter. It’s best practice to also include less-common hazards, especially if they could result in serious injuries.

Identifying driving-related hazards

To get started, we recommend downloading our Inventory of Driving-Related Hazards (Excel 169KB). It lists many common hazards. You can modify the list to fit your workplace and the driving your employees do. Be sure to read the instructions on the first tab of the worksheet before beginning.

Or, if you prefer, you can use our Driving-Related Hazards Checklist (PDF 14KB).

Effective hazard identification is a team effort. Involve your supervisors, managers, and employees who drive for work. They know the hazards they face and which ones concern them the most. They also may have good ideas on how to manage the risks.

Here are some ways to gather hazard information.

  • Ask drivers what practices and conditions they think are dangerous.
  • Go for a ride-along. Experience the hazards first-hand.
  • Check vehicle inspection reports. What mechanical issues do you see or hear about?
  • Review near miss reports and crash investigations. What caused or contributed to those events?
  • Review vehicle owners’ manuals. Watch for “Caution” labels and “Hazard” symbols.
  • Think about non-routine and high-risk driving circumstances.
  • Talk with other employers in your industry. What are their biggest road safety challenges?
  • Think of who else could be harmed. Passenger(s), other motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists could be at risk too.

Assessing risks

Once you’ve identified hazards for drivers, the next step is a risk assessment. It’s a requirement for employers. You need to estimate how much risk each hazard creates for drivers. Assessing risks also helps you set priorities.

What are risks?

Risk is the possibility or potential for loss. It’s the likelihood of personal injury, property damage, or another negative outcome if drivers are exposed to a hazard.

How to assess risks

You don’t need to be a health and safety expert to conduct a risk assessment. You can do it yourself if you’re confident you understand what’s involved. Involve drivers, supervisors, and any safety reps you have on staff.

We recommend organizations of all sizes use our RiskCheck online tool. It guides you step by step through an assessment and action plan for reducing risk.

RiskCheck uses a simple risk matrix to rate probability and severity to determine the overall risk. It also allows you to set priorities for actions to reduce risk.

Probability is the likelihood that a crash or another negative outcome will occur. You take into account how often employees are exposed to a hazard and what negative outcomes may result.

Severity is an assessment of how harmful the injuries or consequences could be. In a crash, for example, what injuries could a driver sustain and how much could it cost to repair damage and address other liabilities? 

You can assign a rating of High, Medium, or Low based on the following suggested thresholds. They apply in many workplaces. Adjust them as needed for your circumstances, including your organization’s values and risk tolerances.

Rating

Probability of hazard

Severity of harm it may cause

High
  • Frequent
  • At least once a year in your organization
  • Occurs often in similar circumstances (e.g. in another organization doing similar work)
  • Greater than 50% chance of occurring
  • Serious or disabling personal injury, permanent disability, or fatality
  • Substantial cost to replace or repair damaged property
  • Loss of business function for extended period, substantial consequences for organization
Medium
  • Not frequent
  • Less than once a year in your organization
  • Has occurred in similar circumstances (e.g. in another organization doing similar work)
  • 10% to 50% chance of occurring
  • Injury requiring medical aid with or without lost time from work
  • Moderate costs to replace or repair damaged property
  • Loss of business function for short period, modest consequences for business
Low
  • Unlikely
  • Maybe once every 10 years
  • Has never occurred but is possible
  • Less than 10% chance of occurring
  • No injury, or minor injury not requiring first aid
  • Minimal costs to replace or repair damaged property
  • Minor business interruption

Always address your highest risks first in your road safety plan. Be sure to take action to help reduce the risk of any hazard that could seriously injure a driver or work passenger.

Risk assessment examples

Here are a few examples of how organizations have applied a simple risk matrix.

Taxi business
Courier business
Health services business

Risk assessment tools

In addition to RiskCheck, you can use some of our other resources.

Simple Risk Matrix Assessment Tool
Road Safety Risk Profile

Once your assessment is done, you have the information you need to start reducing driving risks for your organization.


Reducing driving risks

The most important step in risk management is finding ways to eliminate or reduce risks. You need to manage them so they don’t cause or contribute to crashes.

Hierarchy of controls

As you do your risk assessment you’ll create a list of driving-related hazards and rank them for severity. You then need to take action to help protect drivers from the hazards. Always start with the ones that create the highest risk.

There’s a certain order to follow when considering what action to take. It’s called the hierarchy of controls. It’s a system that lays out tiers of safety options according to how effective they are. Eliminating a hazard, for example, is always the best option. If that’s not possible, you then look to the next tier for ideas.

You’ll likely get the best results from combining options that fit under different tiers. You may, for example, mix engineering (install winter tires as soon as temperatures start dropping) and administrative controls (change driving schedules so driving occurs during daylight hours).

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is always the last option, not the first.

You may not be able to identify an option from all 5 tiers for each hazard.

Examples of hazard controls

Here are some examples of how the hierarchy of controls can be applied to road safety scenarios.

Hazard: Winter driving conditions
Hazard: Speeding
Hazard: Foggy weather
Hazard: Driver unfamiliar with vehicle
Hazard: Distracted driving

RiskCheck

You can use our RiskCheck online tool to complete comprehensive and regular road safety risk assessments. It gives you an inventory of driving-related hazards that you can customize for your workplace. Then it helps you do a basic risk assessment process to rank risks and set your priorities.

RiskCheck also suggests strategies you can use to address the risks and resources that can help you reduce and manage them. The tool helps you assemble an action plan, assign responsibilities, and track progress.

Using RiskCheck

To get started, open RiskCheck to register. As you use the tool, you can save, print, and share your plan. You can return whenever you like to review and update it.

START RISKCHECK


Resources

Tool

RiskCheck

RiskCheck is a comprehensive online tool you can use to complete regular road safety risk assessments.
Online Course

Controlling Exposure to Driving-Related Hazards Online Course

See how the Hierarchy of Controls applies to road safety hazards and explore some of the most effective actions to prevent driver exposure.
Inventory of Driving-Related Hazards
Excel 14KB
Driving-Related Hazards Checklist
PDF 169KB
Simple Risk Matrix Assessment Tool
Excel 26KB
Risk Assessment Example for a Service Business
PDF 181KB
Safety tips for using taxis and ride hailing services for work travel
PDF 145KB
Road Safety Risk Profile
PDF 393KB
Vehicle Emergency Kit Checklist
PDF 135KB