Hazard identification, risk assessment and risk control

There are three steps used to manage health and safety at work.

  1. Spot the Hazard (Hazard Identification)
  2. Assess the Risk (Risk Assessment)
  3. Make the Changes (Risk Control)

At work you can use these three ThinkSafe steps to help prevent accidents.

Using the ThinkSafe steps

1. Spot the hazard

Key point: A hazard is anything that could hurt you or someone else.

Examples of workplace hazards include:

  • frayed electrical cords (could result in electrical shock)
  • boxes stacked precariously (they could fall on someone)
  • noisy machinery (could result in damage to your hearing)

During work experience, you must remain alert to anything that may be dangerous. If you see, hear or smell anything odd, take note. If you think it could be a hazard, tell someone.

2. Assess the risk

Key point: Assessing the risk means working out how likely it is that a hazard will harm someone and how serious the harm could be.

Whenever you spot a hazard, assess the risk by asking yourself two questions:

  • how likely is it that the hazard could harm me or someone else?
  • how badly could I or someone else be harmed?

Always tell someone (your employer, your supervisor or your health and safety representative) about hazards you can't fix yourself, especially if the hazard could cause serious harm to anyone.

For example:

  • ask your supervisor for instructions and training before using equipment
  • ask for help moving or lifting heavy objects
  • tell your supervisor if you think a work practice could be dangerous

If you are not sure of the safest way to do something on work experience, always ask your work experience supervisor.

3. Make the changes

Key point: It is your employer's responsibility to fix hazards. Sometimes you may be able to fix simple hazards yourself, as long as you don't put yourself or others at risk. For example, you can pick up things from the floor and put them away to eliminate a trip hazard.

The best way to fix a hazard is to get rid of it altogether. This is not always possible, but your employer should try to make hazards less dangerous by looking at the following options (in order from most effective to least effective):

  • Elimination - Sometimes hazards - equipment, substances or work practices - can be avoided entirely. (e.g. Clean high windows from the ground with an extendable pole cleaner, rather than by climbing a ladder and risking a fall.)
  • Substitution - Sometimes a less hazardous thing, substance or work practice can be used. (e.g. Use a non-toxic glue instead of a toxic glue.)
  • Isolation - Separate the hazard from people, by marking the hazardous area, fitting screens or putting up safety barriers. (e.g. Welding screens can be used to isolate welding operations from other workers. Barriers and/or boundary lines can be used to separate areas where forklifts operate near pedestrians in the workplace.)
  • Safeguards - Safeguards can be added by modifying tools or equipment, or fitting guards to machinery. These must never be removed or disabled by workers using the equipment.
  • Instructing workers in the safest way to do something - This means developing and enforcing safe work procedures. Students on work experience must be given information and instruction and must follow agreed procedures to ensure their safety.
  • Using personal protective equipment and clothing (PPE) - If risks remain after the options have been tried, it may be necessary to use equipment such as safety glasses, gloves, helmets and ear muffs. PPE can protect you from hazards associated with jobs such as handling chemicals or working in a noisy environment.

Sometimes, it will require more than one of the risk control measures above to effectively reduce exposure to hazards.


Students can complete the following Hazard, Risk Assessment and Control activities: