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Hazards and Accidents

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A hazard is something that could cause harm to a person or property. Hazards can be classed into four groups. These are shown, with some examples, in the table below.

Causes of accidents and precautions to be observed

What is an accident?
An accident is something that happens by chance and is not planned.
There are two main causes of accidents. These causes are:

  • unsafe acts
  • unsafe conditions

Unsafe acts may include:

  • not using protective equipment or clothing such as safety
    footwear or eye protection
  • not following safety procedures
  • not maintaining tools and machinery
  • not electrically isolating a machine before working on the electrical wiring
  • not using safety guards or interlocks on machines
  • not using the proper tool for the task
  • not reporting things that are wrong with machines or tools
  • not tidying the workplace
  • not reporting inappropriate behaviour
  • not storing materials or tools in the appropriate places
  • running or playing games in the workplace
  • using machinery or tools when under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • continuing to use tools or machinery that are not working properly
  • leaving untrained students to work unsupervised on machinery
  • unsupervised heating of liquids, particularly frying oils

Unsafe conditions sometimes occur because of an unsafe act.
Examples of unsafe conditions are:

  • guards missing from machines
  • damaged or faulty machines or tools
  • strobe effects of fluorescent lights that make it appear as if machines have stopped rotating
  • wrongly wired electrical circuits
  • lack of proper storage facilities
  • poor lighting on machines
  • tripping or slip hazards on the floor of the workplace
  • not enough space around machines
  • faulty gas ovens

You will see that:

  • hazard + unsafe acts can cause an accident
  • hazard + unsafe conditions can cause an accident
  • hazard + unsafe act + unsafe conditions can cause an accident

Now you know what

  • a hazard is
  • an accident is
  • an unsafe act is
  • unsafe conditions are.

You should now be in a position to decide what precautions must be taken to improve safety.