A sound hazard prevention program (HPP) is the cornerstone of an efficient occupational health and safety management system. In this module, you will be presented with an overview of the various types of hazards, hazard identification and reporting, as well as the risk evaluation and task hazard analysis processes, in an effort to provide you with knowledge and an understanding of the legislative requirements under the Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, Part XIX. The elements of the HPP embody the internal responsibility system where both employees and employers have important responsibilities to contribute to successfully implementing an effective HPP.
By Natural Resources Canada
- Objectives of the hazard prevention program
- What is a hazard?
- Five types of hazards:
- Biological hazards
- Chemical hazards
- Ergonomic hazards
- Physical hazards
- Psychosocial hazards
- Reporting hazards
- What should you do if you discover a hazard?
- Task hazard analysis: safe working procedures and rules
- What you need to know about safe lifting
- What you need to know about ergonomics
- Adjusting and adapting your computer workstation: checklist
- Adjusting and adapting your computer workstation: more information
- Quiz: 7 questions
- Going further than that…
Module 4: Hazard Prevention Program
A hazard prevention program (HPP) is a workplace-specific program designed to prevent work-related injuries and diseases by the identification of hazards, the assessment of those hazards, the choice of preventive measures and employee education.
Part XIX of the Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations and Part 7 of the Maritime Occupational Health and Safety Regulations came into force in December 2005 and in 2010 respectively. Both regulations require that:
- A hazard prevention program and implementation plan be created;
- An assessment methodology be in place;
- Hazards be identified and assessed;
- Preventive measures be put into place;
- Employees be educated;
- The program be evaluated regularly.
[Insert your department’s name] has an approved HPP and HPP implementation plan. The plan was developed in consultation with the National Policy Health and Safety Committee and approved by your department’s senior management.
A hazard assessment methodology is in place as part of the [insert your department’s name] Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Program and forms part of the task hazard analysis process.
Objectives of the hazard prevention program
The objectives of the [insert your department’s name] HPP are to ensure that:
- Task hazard analysis processes are conducted;
- All mandatory OHS training is received by managers, supervisors, employees, OHS committee members, OHS representatives, building emergency evacuation team members, and first aid attendants;
- Employees are protected against violence in the workplace;
- Inspection and preventive maintenance programs are in place for all workplaces;
- A building emergency and evacuation program is developed and maintained;
- OHS committees and OHS representatives are in place;
- All hazardous occurrences are investigated and reported, records are maintained by the department, and all corrective actions are addressed;
- The internal complaint resolution and refusal-to-work processes are formally investigated and documented, and all follow-up action is addressed;
- The [insert your department’s name] OHS Program and [insert your department’s name] HPP are reviewed, monitored and evaluated for their effectiveness.
The [insert your department’s name] Hazard Prevention Program can be found at the following link: [insert your department’s link for HPP].
What is a hazard?
Whether you work in a shop, a laboratory, an office, the field, or on a ship, your workplace may have health and safety hazards. You are responsible for reporting all hazards to your manager or supervisor. But what is a hazard? How do you report one? And why is it so important to do this?
A hazard is any condition, practice or situation that could cause injury or illness to you or others at work. Examples include, but are not limited to, blocked exits, missing machine guards, unsafe work habits, unlabelled chemicals or materials, poor lighting, slippery floors, damaged ladders, noisy equipment, vehicle damage, safety equipment missing from a boat, and equipment that is inadequate for field conditions.
Five types of hazards
There are five types of workplace hazards:
- Biological hazards, such as micro-organisms (viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites), insects, plants (toxins, allergies), and animals (bites, infections, allergies);
- Chemical hazards, which can be in the form of solids, liquids, vapours, gases, dusts, fumes or mists;
- Ergonomic hazards may be caused by any of the following:
- Poorly designed or inadequate workstations, lighting, tools and equipment;
- Physical or mental demands (monotony, work pressure, perceptual or mental overload, metabolic cycles disrupted by overtime or shift rotation);
- Poor body position (static posture, lifting, twisting, straining);
- Physical hazards are related to noise, vibration, energy, weather, heat, cold, electricity, radiation, buildings and materials, work on ships and other watercraft, and transfers between moving platforms;
- Psychosocial hazards include actual or potential workplace violence or harassment, lack of management and employee accountability due to substandard conditions, procedures, practices or unsafe acts.
One of the best ways to help you spot hazards is by asking yourself “What if…?” questions.
For example, what if there was a fire and the exit was blocked? What if someone operated this machine without the guard? What if someone used this ladder with the broken rung? What if someone handled a chemical without knowing what it was? What if someone inhaled those fumes?
Reporting dangerous and hazardous conditions or substandard practices is essential to you, your fellow employees and your department. How often have you heard about one of your co-workers getting injured, and said to yourself, “that almost happened to me”? Reporting a hazard to your supervisor when you first see or hear about it might prevent accidents by ensuring that corrective actions are implemented in a timely manner.
What should you do if you discover a hazard?
- Immediately inform your supervisor verbally or in an email. If you wish to formally report the hazard, you may do so via the Internal Complaint Resolution Process.
- If possible, provide as much detail as you can about how serious a threat the hazard poses.
- If possible, recommend ways to correct the problem.
The hierarchy of controls are measures that are designed to eliminate or reduce the hazard or the hazardous exposure. The types of controls are as follows:
- Eliminate the hazard: Hazards may be eliminated by changing how the work is done. For example, moving the work at height to ground level eliminates the fall hazard.
- Substitution: For example, replacing a solvent-based paint with a water-based paint.
- Implement an administrative control: For example, employee receives training or safe working procedures.
- Engineering controls: The basic idea is to design the work environment and the work to be done, such that exposure to hazards is eliminated or reduced. For example, if a machine has moving parts, a guard may be added to prevent physical access to the moving parts.
- Identify personal protective equipment or clothing that shall be used when conducting the task: For example, self-contained breathing apparatus, safety boots, hard hats, goggles.
Task hazard analysis: safe working procedures and rules
The task hazard analysis (THA) process will support employee orientation and effective supervision, aid in hazardous occurrence prevention, and assist in conducting hazardous occurrence investigations.
A THA is a process that reviews all of the tasks that an employee conducts as part of their job and assesses these tasks for risk of injury or illness.
A task is one of the various components of work that comprise an employee’s job and requires a set of distinct steps or actions for completion.
A THA reviews:
- How often the employee conducts the task;
- The potential for injury when conducting the task;
- The potential severity of the injury;
- The risks associated with the steps in a specific task if the task is deemed critical.
As a result of the assessment, supervisors will determine if a task is considered critical. A critical task is one that has the potential to cause serious injury or harm.
When a task is determined to be critical, supervisors shall conduct a further assessment. The assessment will review the risks associated with each task, what controls are currently in place and what further controls are required to make the risk level acceptable. Supervisors will use the hierarchy of controls mentioned above.
All critical tasks require a safe work procedure as part of those controls. Safe work procedures and rules are developed as a result of your supervisor conducting a THA.
A safe work procedure is a written, step-by-step description of how work is to be performed properly, consistently and safely. Such a procedure is mandatory for all tasks that are deemed critical. It is mandatory for you to follow all safe work procedures. Each safe work procedure shall be read, understood and signed off by employees.
A rule may be established when a task is not deemed critical but does have safety concerns associated with it. Rules are usually established by your supervisor but may be established as a result of legislation. Examples of rules include:
- Report all hazards to your supervisor;
- Ensure that all tools are put away;
- Keep aisles, stairways, exits and entrances clear.
It is mandatory to follow all rules established for your safety. You must ensure that you have read, understood and signed off on all safe work procedures. It is your responsibility to follow these procedures and rules.
What you need to know about safe lifting
When you are required to manually lift or carry loads over 10 kg (approximately 22 pounds) as part of your job, your supervisor is required to:
- Instruct and train you in a safe method of lifting and carrying the loads that will minimize the stress to the body;
- Provide you with a work procedure that is appropriate to your physical condition and the condition of the workplace
If you work in an office environment, and your primary task does not include manual lifting, you should not be lifting or carrying anything in excess of 23 kg (approximately 50 pounds).
If you are required to manually lift or carry loads weighing in excess of 45 kg (approximately 100 pounds), your supervisor will provide you with instructions in writing.
What you need to know about ergonomics
Ergonomics is the science of matching the job and the product to the worker. For example, setting up a computer station that is adapted to the user.
There are legislative requirements regarding lifting and ergonomics. Supervisors are responsible for ensuring that the machinery, equipment, and tools used by employees in the course of their employment meet prescribed health, safety, and ergonomic standards, and are safe under all conditions of their intended use.
As part of the THA process, you should receive applicable instructions, rules or safe work procedures related to ergonomics.
Adjusting and Adapting your Computer Workstation Checklist text version
A Comfortable Posture
- YOUR THIGHS SHOULD BE PARALLEL TO THE FLOOR
- Adjust the height and/or angle of the chair seat.
- YOUR FEET SHOULD LAY FLAT ON THE FLOOR OR ON A FOOTREST
- Adjust the height of the chair seat. (See Note 1 below)
- Foot at 90° to ankle.
- BACK OF THE KNEES SHOULD BE CLEAR OF THE FRONT EDGE OF THE SEAT
- Adjust the depth of the chair seat so that you can easily place your fist behind your knee.
- Be sure to specify the appropriate seat depth length when ordering a new chair.
- YOUR BACK: LOWER AND MID-BACK SHOULD BE WELL SUPPORTED
- Adjust the height, tension, and angle of the backrest, to ensure the lumbar support is positioned at your waist.
- YOUR FOREARMS SHOULD BE SUPPORTED AND YOUR SHOULDERS RELAXED AT ALL TIMES
- The height of and distance between your armrests should allow freedom of movement for your forearms when performing tasks, yet provide support for them during rest periods or when using your mouse.
- Avoid hunching your shoulders and ensure that the elbows/upper arms remain close to your torso. (If armrests do not adjust, see Note 2)
- YOUR ELBOWS SHOULD BE AT APPROXIMATELY THE SAME HEIGHT AS THE KEYBOARD
- Adjust the height of your keyboard tray or work surface so the keyboard is at the height of your elbows. (If this is not possible, see Notes 3 and 4)
- YOUR WRISTS SHOULD BE STRAIGHT AT ALL TIMES AND YOUR HANDS IN LINE WITH YOUR FOREARMS
- Adjust the angle and height of the keyboard tray or work surface to ensure straight wrists.
- If your keyboard tray or work surface is not adjustable, adjust your seat to ensure straight wrists. You will need to use a footrest if you have raised the seat and your feet are not flat and well supported on the floor. (See Notes 4 and 5)
- THE MONITOR SHOULD BE AT A COMFORTABLE READING DISTANCE AND HEIGHT
- The viewing distance should be within 16” to 29” (40 cm-74 cm). About one arm’s length.
- The monitor height should allow the neck to be in a neutral position when looking at the top row of text on the screen. (See Note 6)
Everything Within Reach
- Place the mouse next to the keyboard and at the same height. (See Note 7)
- Document(s) should be on a document holder that is placed either between the keyboard and the screen or next to and at approximately the same height as the monitor screen.
- A task light improves lighting on the document(s) you are reading. (See Note 8)
A properly adjusted workstation allows you to adopt a natural and comfortable posture. To benefit from these adjustments, your work should be properly organized. (See Note 9)
Adjusting and Adapting your Computer Workstation - More Information text version
NOTE 1: ADJUSTING THE HEIGHT OF YOUR CHAIR SEAT
- Adjust the height of your chair seat so that it is below or at knee height.
NOTE 2: ARMRESTS
- Your forearms can be supported by armrests. If your armrests are not adjustable, replace with adjustable armrests if possible.
NOTE 3: WORK SURFACE
- If your work surface is not adjustable, adjust the height of your chair seat so that your elbows are at the same height as the keyboard.
- The height of the chair should be adjusted considering the height of the work surface and the work being done.
NOTE 4: FOOTREST
- A footrest may be necessary when the chair is raised for a worker to reach a work surface and when feet are unsupported.
- If a worker moves his or her chair frequently between different work surfaces, more than one footrest may be required.
NOTE 5: HAND POSITION
- The purpose of a hand/wrist support is to prevent your wrists from resting on hard surfaces during rest periods between keyboard tasks.
- Good habits include avoiding extreme wrist postures, such as those illustrated below. (Diagram of hands on keyboard turned outward at wrist and diagram of hands bent upwards at wrist)
NOTE 6: POSITION OF COMPUTER MONITOR
- If you wear bifocals and view the screen with the lower portion of the lenses, it may help to position the monitor lower or tilt it back slightly. (Watch out for glare!)
NOTE 7: SIZE AND POSITION OF THE MOUSE
- Your mouse should be the proper size to fit your hand and be positioned directly beside your keyboard.
- If you have a keyboard tray that is not wide enough to accommodate the mouse, consider the use of adjustable shelves that may be attached to the work surface or those that may extend the keyboard tray.
- Another option is to eliminate your keyboard tray by placing your keyboard and mouse on the work surface. Note that if you choose this option, remember to apply the necessary adjustments to the chair and monitor height as required.
- Ensure your arms are close to your body while using the mouse.
NOTE 8: LIGHTING AND GLARE
To avoid glare and increase monitor screen visibility, you can:
- Reduce, eliminate or diffuse any overhead lighting that is reflected on your screen;
- Position your monitor so that your line of vision is parallel to the window;
- Ensure that the monitor screen has a light background colour and dark characters;
- An antiglare screen should be avoided unless other measures are not applicable.
Please note: glare control measures should ensure that a comfortable posture can be maintained.
NOTE 9: WORK ORGANIZATION
Even the most comfortable posture should be changed periodically.
- Tilt your chair seat and backrest to vary posture;
- Take short breaks frequently to avoid prolonged static postures;
- Alternate work at the computer with non-computer tasks;
- Adopt a work pace that is regular and reasonable for you;
- Periodically look away from the screen to a farther distance;
- Stretch regularly and perform relaxation exercises;
- Swivel your chair to face your next task instead of twisting your body.
Quiz – Module 4: Hazard Prevention Program
- What is a hazard?
- A condition, practice or situation that could cause injury
- A contravention of the Code or associated regulations
- Both of the above
- Why is it important to report hazards?
- To prevent an injury or illness
- To ensure that your supervisor is aware of all unsafe conditions
- To ensure that immediate action is taken to prevent an illness or injury
- All of the above
- What’s the first thing you should do if you discover a hazard?
- Report the hazard to your co-workers
- Report the hazard to your supervisor
- Report the hazard to the OHS committee or OHS representative
- All hazards should be reported via the Internal Complaint Resolution Process.
- What are ways that a hazard can be controlled?
- Engineering controls
- Administrative controls
- Personal protective equipment
- All of the above
- What is a task hazard analysis?
- A task hazard analysis is a review of all tasks involved in an occupation
- A task hazard analysis is a process that reviews all the tasks that an employee conducts as part of their workload, and assesses these tasks for the risk of injury or illness
- A task hazard analysis is a process that allows supervisors to establish procedures and rules
- All of the above
- What is a safe work procedure?
- A safe work procedure is a written, step-by-step description or instruction of how work is to be performed properly, consistently and safely
- A safe work procedure is an administrative control of a hazard
- Both of the above
Module 4: Going further than that…
You are invited to enhance your skills and knowledge by consulting the following.
Courses by the Canada School of Public Service
- Mental Health: Awareness (Z041)
- Mental Health: Health and Wellness Strategies (Z042)
- Mental Health: Psychologically Healthy Workplaces (Z043)
- Mental Health: Signs, Symptoms and Solutions (Z067)
- Mental Health: Communication Strategies (Z087)
- Electrical Safety (S002)
- Slips, Trips and Falls (S009)
Courses by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
- Being a Mindful Employee: An Orientation to Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace
- Stress in the Workplace ($)
- Federal Hazard Prevention Program ($)
- Hazard Identification, Assessment and Control ($)
Links to reference material
- Information on workplace hazards
- Psychological Health in the Workplace
- Occupational Chemical Agent Compliance Sampling Guideline
- Hot Work Environment
- Guide on the prevention of musculoskeletal injury
 In this training package, “department” is generally used to refer to federal departments and agencies.