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HIRAC - Hazard Identification, Risk Assessment and Control - is a process to manage hazards and ensure a safe workplace. It is an ongoing process and consists of three activities of identification, assessment and control of hazards.

 

An application-oriented question on the topic along with responses can be seen below. The best answer was provided by Rajesh Chakrabarty and Rajesh Patwardhan.

 

Applause for the joint winners!

 

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Q 340. Organizational Health and Safety were always important, however, they have become paramount post Covid. HIRAC is one of the tools that can ensure a safe workplace. What is HIRAC? Explain with an example

 

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A never before level of awareness of Health & Safety has come about in the society during and since the COVID pandemic outbreak. Consequently, today, the responsibility towards the safety of the employees at the workplace is more vital than ever before. This is not only because of the moral obligation but also due to the rejuvenated implementation and follow up by the civic bodies on the Health and safety regulations. This is a positive trend as most of the growing organizations with ethical mind set, have optimized the situation by building a Health and Safety first culture. This culture building is beyond procedures and measuring results and is about institutionalizing attitudes, beliefs and broader values that each employee shares commonly. The Management is consciously focusing on this culture enhancement as they know that this will in the long term project the organization as a safe place to work and attract good candidates, who prefer to work in matured organizations with strong safety culture and value of responsibility towards their employees.

One of the tools that many organizations have adopted to ensure a safe workplace for al stakeholders including the customers is HIRAC- Hazard Identification, Risk Assessment and Control. The HIRAC process accentuates the management of hazards in the workplace. It is the fundamental mechanism to ensure a safe operational environment and inspires and follows the base of the contemporary health and safety legislations.

The ideal management approach for HIRAC

Prepare

-        inculcate a top down approach , where the leaders create a “Shadow of the leader” for the subordinates to follow and are  morally and ethically  committed to act responsibly within their circle of influence , for the safety of all people in the operational area.

-       Create “Safety Teams” so that representation from all departments /Sections are , wherever there is a potential for any hazard to safety of people.. Sub teams can also be made in big organizations. The idea is that the involvement in the HIRAC programme is there at all levels across the organization.

-       Pre-empt the possible categories of Hazard in various working environments in the operational environment.

In the following categories Let’s take the examples of an operational environment at a Restaurant

(i)            Biological – Includes Bacteria, Insects, Animals , which can cause adverse health impacts- EXAMPLE: Mould in food stuff due to improper storage . Some Organizations follow Strong HACCP process to ensure safety from hazard from food in the cafeteria.

(ii)          Chemical- Includes hazardous substances like Cleaning solutions, Paints, Varnishes . Apart from cause of allergies, respiratory issues and serious issues like blindness etc. Most of them are inflammable and have every chance of causing a fire  or explosion at the workplace. EXAMPLE: Stocking of Cleaning Chemicals in the warehouse.

(iii)         Physical- include environmental factors that can harm any person like slippery floor, Heighted stairs, Undue Noise, radiation, Low oxygen level, loose wirings which may cause a person to trip etc. These are very much possible in any working floor EXAMPLE- Slippery floor can lead to the possible fall of employees and Customers as well.

(iv)         Electrical –EXAMPLE Electrical shocks from Equipment’s or malfunctioning wiring or improper earthing. It can be a part of the Physical category as well.

(v)          Ergonomic- Include musculoskeletal injuries. for EXAMPLE, a poor table / lounge setup or damaged chairs with improper levelling which causes a lot of physical stress to the customer who sits at the restaurant for over an hour or so for a meal.

(vi)         Psychosocial- include those that can have a bad impact on the employee’s mental health- EXAMPLE sexual harassment, Extended hours without breaks etc.

 

Post the above mentioned preparation the Steps for HIRAC approach are mentioned below;

 

1)    Potential Hazard Identification in every working area. In the organization.

Examples for the same are mentioned above, when we discussed the categories of Hazards in a Restaurant .

2)    Risk Assessment – This is the step wherein we assess the probability and severity of the above mentioned types of hazards becoming a reality. There are 5 steps to Risk Assessment:

Step 1- Identify the hazards

Step 2- Decide who may be harmed or impacted and in what situation

Step 3- Assess the risks and take action

Step 4- Make a Record of the findings

Step 5- Review the risk Assessment

A Risk assessment finding can be recorded in a table format in every unit and a corrective and preventive plan can be implemented with a regular safety checklist to check and control. The Table may look something like this at a Restaurant (Diagram).

Technically a Restaurant is a working environment where the people who are present are not only the Employees of the restaurant, but also the customers who are dining there, the Vendors who may have come to offer their services and yes, we often forget to think about the safety of the neighboring shops and establishments.

3)    Plan Control Measures – The Risk assessment will give enough understanding of the risk and the impact. Post that it is very important to do a proper brainstorming session with Subject matter experts (SME), as this is a very critical programme. Yes, the inputs may be taken from all the levels to instill involvement and ownership across the organization. In our case the restaurant. The Approach should be of Preventive action and apt follow-up, depending on the level and impact of the Risk. The objective is to reduce or eliminate the identified hazards.

A Risk Assessment Table may look like this at a restaurant, with only one example of a hazard in each category of hazard. We may make an analogy for other units of operational environment.

 

 

(Diagram 1)

 

4)    Record Keeping – It is very important to always maintain records of all risk assessment reports from step1 onwards and the records need to be updated whenever there is any new information. The documentation is best when there are images &/ video Links with description of best and worst Practices. This will help in training and imbibing the culture. 360-degree feedback needs to be documented as well. Keep updating the documents and modules whenever the scope of any new hazard is cited and the process needs to be followed over again for each such identified hazard.

5)    Implementation & review- All measures should be implemented after due approvals from the top Management. Periodic Meetings, once a week in the initial phases and then once a month and review the efficiency of the tool. The feedback management system should be followed very strongly- bottom up approach, because the best information comes from the gemba!!

 

A simple metrix can also be used to help prioritising the actions- The red cells are on highest priority !!

(Diagram 2)

 

So much of effort and documentation may seem tedious and at times useless when no real issue comes up over a long period of time. The whole approach gets diluted. We must ensure that the excitement and involvement is kept alive with rewards and recognition for achievements of SMART “Safety Targets”. We must always remember and remind all within the team that all the applied effort and focus is better than any untoward incident to happen in our work place!!!!

HIRAC Diagram-2.jpg

HIRAC- Diagram 1.png

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HIRAC - Hazard identification, risk assessment and control.

 

This tool has been used by the industry for decades globally. It's a very powerful tool and goes with identification of each (typically a risk identification register), with a 3x3 or 5x5 matrix for assessment of risks.

 

Typically, it can be used effectively for Project risk management bug has largely been used for Health and safety risk assessments. ERICPD - Eliminate, Reduce, Isolate, Control and PPE and Demarcation is the methodology used with HIRAC to manage risks in a decreasing order of effect each of these techniques of risk management has, with Elimination being the best and most desirable methodology to Demarcation being the least impact full and effective.

The HIRAC methodology is extremely effective provided there's continuous and full cooperation within team with significant focus on identification of risk, assessment of the risk and choice of methodology to control.

The CDM regulations in the UK promote use these methodologies extremely seriously and have put significant onus on all stakeholders from Owners to Consultants to Contractors and Subcontractors to contribute to this.

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