Field-Level Risk Assessment, Job Safety Analysis, Task Hazard Analysis, Field-Level Hazard Analysis—no matter what you call it, the process of stopping to identify and control hazards in your work environment is a crucial step in keeping you safe.
Four Basic Hazards
According to highway worker safety programs, there are four basic hazards that flaggers (and other roadside workers) should be wary of: falls (due to unfinished surfaces or unprotected edges), struck-bys (due to vehicle strikes or falling/flying objects), caught-in-betweens (due to rotating or unguarded equipment), and electrocutions (due to contact with utility lines or live circuits).
These same safety programs identify conditions that increase the degree of danger at work sites: constricted work sites, inclement weather, low light, reduced visibility, and vehicle congestion. (Thus, why roadside workers face higher risks during nighttime construction projects.)
What is Field-Level Risk Assessment?
Field-Level Risk Assessment (FLRA) is a method used to identify hazards at a work site to give workers an opportunity to control them in order to minimize risk. FLRAs are used to compile real-time information prior to starting work and anytime a change occurs. For example, when a new worker joins the crew, procedures change, site conditions change, work tasks or equipment change, or activity of others poses a threat. They require workers to frequently consider and document any possible hazards due to conditions, equipment, or the site, minimizing the possibility that hazards will be overlooked. And most importantly, they encourage workers to develop the habit of task-hazard-control association which ultimately prevents injury or death.
The Three Basic Steps of FLRAs
The first step is to look around and identify hazards. Workers should make themselves aware of the work site, people, equipment, materials, and conditions around them. It’s about looking around thinking, “What could potentially be hazardous?”
The second step is to control hazards. Workers should develop and apply control measures to reduce health and safety risks. In other words, they should stop to think, “What can I do to prevent this potential hazard?”
The third step is to begin or resume work. Once hazards have been identified and controlled, workers can proceed with their assigned tasks while remaining vigilant to new hazards or changes that require another FLRA.
Tips for Performing Thorough FLRAs
When you’re standing between a work site and traffic and FLRAs are what’s keeping you safe, you’d better be thorough. One way to do this is to break the job task into steps, identify possible hazards for each step, and establish strategies to reduce or eliminate each of those hazards. Start by observing a worker perform the task and list each step the task requires starting with a verb. If there are many steps involved in the task or if the task is going to be repeated multiple times or by multiple people, you may consider videotaping or photographing the steps.
Next, consider any chemical, biological, ergonomic, or environmental hazards by asking the following questions: Are there objects that could strike a worker? Are there areas a worker could get caught? Are there areas a worker could slip, trip, or fall? And generally: What could go wrong? How could that occur? What would be the consequences? What is the likelihood that would occur?
Finally, prevent or fix hazards by determining different steps to perform the task, changing the conditions that result in the hazard, altering the procedure, or lowering the frequency of the task.
Still, the very best way to stay safe is to BE PREPARED! Make sure you have the training you need, make sure you hire qualified flaggers, make sure you have a great traffic management plan, and make sure you have the best traffic equipment.
If you need help, the Universal Group is happy to assist with any of these. Universal Health and Safety is available to consult or provide training for flaggers based on current industry standards. Universal Flagging and GOtraffic are proud to offer experienced traffic control people and quality traffic control equipment for any size project. And Universal’s Traffic Management Plan division has extensive experience building plans to suit various project needs.
Contact us to learn more.