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Competencies covered

MSMWHS200: Work safely

MSFFL3002: Establish and maintain a safe flooring technology work environment

TLID2003: Handle dangerous goods/hazardous substances

Assessing risks

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Once the hazards have been identified, they can be given a risk rating, depending on how urgently they need to be addressed.

The risk matrix shown below has been designed by WorkCover to rate the likelihood of an accident occurring, and the seriousness of the harm that might result.

This allows a priority rating to be put against each of the hazards identified, so that the most serious ones can be dealt with first.

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Could happen frequently

Could happen occasionally

May occur, but only in exceptional circumstances
High level of harm

Death, permanent disability, major structural failure or damage
1 1 2
Medium level of harm

Temporary disability, minor structural failure or damage
1 2 3
Low level of harm

First aid required
2 3 3

    (Adapted from the 'OHSE Risk Matrix' developed by WorkCover for its 'SubbyPack')

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Let's take a couple of examples to see how you can use the risk matrix to rate the seriousness of a hazard and decide on the best course of action to take.

1. Hazard in the warehouse

There is a large pothole near the entranceway to the warehouse. The forklift truck could tilt to one side if its tyre went into the hole, which would destabilise the load and may even cause the forklift to fall sideways. This could happen any time, and if it did, might result in someone being seriously injured and cause major damage to the forklift.

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When you go to the risk matrix, you would choose 'likely' (column 1) and 'high level of harm' (row 1). This is a risk rating of 1 - the highest level - so the problem needs to be dealt with urgently.

In practice, you would immediately isolate the area with barrier boards or witches hats and then get the pot hole filled in as soon as possible.

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2. Hazard out on-site

An installer needs to apply a levelling compound to a concrete subfloor. He knows that when the cement-based compound gets on his hands it causes his skin to dry out, and repeated contact results in dermatitis. The last time he developed dermatitis, he had to go to the doctor and get a prescription for a medicated hand cream.

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Although he uses tools to mix and apply the patching compound, there is still a 'moderate' chance (column 2) he could get it on his skin, which would result in a 'low level of harm' (row 3). Therefore, the risk rating is 3.

In practice, the installer would wear a pair of gloves while he's mixing and applying a patching compound, especially if he needs to push any of the wet mix into the holes or cracks by hand.

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Learning activity

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See if you can come up with an example of a potential safety hazard for each of the three risk ratings - 1, 2 and 3. Use examples from your own workplace or the on-site jobs you go to.

Write down the nature of the hazard, as well as your reasoning for why you have given it that risk rating.

Share your answers with your trainer and other learners in your group.

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