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  • Hazard Identification

    Nadine Cranenburgh


    In Australia, Section 19 of the Work Health and Safety Act requires Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) to eliminate risks in the workplace, or if that is not reasonably practicable, minimise the risks so far as is reasonably practicable.

    Hazard identification is the critical first step in an organisation’s risk management approach. This approach forms the basis for subsequent risk assessment, identification of risk controls, and ongoing review of hazards and control measures.


    A hazard is defined by Safe Work Australia as “a situation or thing that has the potential to harm a person". Examples of workplace hazards include moving vehicles, machinery noise, chemicals, electricity, bullying and workplace violence.

    Hazard identification is used as a basis for risk assessment, in cases where there is a risk of injury or death when a person is exposed to a hazard. 


    Managing work health and safety risks is an ongoing process that needs attention over time, but particularly when there are changes affecting work activities. It should also be considered when designing and planning products, processes or places used for work.

    Hazards generally arise from the following aspects of work and their interaction:

    • physical work environment
    • equipment, materials and substances used
    • work tasks and how they are performed
    • work design and management.

    Risk identification strategies include:

    • workplace inspections
    • safe design reviews to identify and eliminate hazards and minimise risks is during the design phase
    • consultation with workers and suppliers
    • review of suppliers’ and manufacturers’ product data (safety data sheets) and user manuals
    • reviewing records of workplace incidents, near misses, worker complaints, sick leave, and the results of any inspections and investigations to identify hazards.


    The content on this page was primarily sourced from the following:

    User Feedback

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    Could we consider the changing the first sentence to "the model Work Health and Safety Act" as not all states have adopted the the Work Health and Safety Act?

    Could we consider referencing where the definition of "hazard" was obtained from? I assume it was obtained from the "How to manage work health and safety risks Code of Practice".

    Further Australian Standard based resources that provide a definition of "hazard" include HB 205-2017 Managing health-and-safety-related risk.

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