Managing Safety Performance NewsFlash

Ranking Hazards

If you’re someone who works with your hands, on the list of hazards you face doing your job, how high would you rank Power Tools? 

One way to think about answering that question would be on the basis of frequencyHow often do I encounter that hazard?

Another way to think about answering that question would be severityHow bad would it be if that hazard actually harmed me?

As simple as those two questions seem, there are problems for you found in your answers to each. 

Frequency: For the hazards that we deal with all the time, it’s easy to become complacent, and not even think about the possibility of that hazard harming us. Here’s a good example of what complacency looks like, when using a power tool.

Severity: How should the severity of a hazard be properly assessed? First, make a list of all the ways someone could get hurt using a circular saw. Second, determine how badly someone would be hurt from each way.

Finally, check to see if this way was on your list, and, if it was, how bad could that way be?


It’s easy to fall victim to taking the hazards we rarely face seriously, and being complacent about the hazards we face all the time.

It’s a mistake to think that the serious hazards are the ones that produce serious injury. Under the wrong set of circumstances, most hazards have the potential do to serious harm – to you.

Paul Balmert
November 2018

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