The University of Waikato

Occupational Health and Safety in Employment



To further improve the method for systematically identifying, assessing and controlling hazards in the workplace as required by the Health and Safety in Employment Act.


The procedures apply to all University activities.


"Hazard" means an activity, arrangement, circumstance, event, occurrence, phenomenon, process, situation, or substance (whether arising or caused within or outside a place of work) that is an actual or potential cause or source of harm. In effect a hazard can be interpreted as anything that can cause harm in terms of human injury or ill health, damage to property, damage to the environment or a combination of all these.

"Hazard Identification" is the process of recognising that a hazard exists and defining its characteristics.

"Hazard Assessment" is the overall process of determining whether a hazard is significant.

"Significant hazard" means a hazard that is an actual or potential cause or source of

  1. Serious harm; or
  2. Harm (that is more than trivial) the severity of whose effects on any person depend on the extent or frequency of the person's exposure to the hazard; or
  3. Harm that does not usually occur, or is not easily detectable, until a significant time after exposure to the hazard.

"Harm" means "illness, injury or both". The term is only used in the context of harm that is more than trivial.

"Serious Harm" is essentially a work-related injury, illness or condition that will result in admission to hospital for 48 hours or more or being off work for more than one week.


Senior Managers are responsible for:

  • providing training for the hazard identification process;
  • obtaining specialist advice when appropriate;
  • encouraging all staff to be involved in the hazard identification process in their work areas (usually through a team approach); and
  • implementing the hazard management process.

      A suggested method is as follows:

      • allocate time during a staff meeting to brainstorm all actual and potential hazards arising from the physical work area, the work itself and any work processes being carried out;
      • document all hazards on the Hazard Management form - see Appendix G ;
      • carry out a risk assessment (see process and grid below) to set priorities;
      • evaluate hazards to establish which are "significant" (see definition above);
      • establish controls for each "significant hazard" by using the hierarchy of Elimination, Isolation, and Minimisation; and
      • review and monitor the process regularly.

RISK ASSESSMENT is the process of estimating the magnitude of the risk and deciding what actions to take. The following questions are asked to establish the risk.

(a) A potential Severity Rating

What degree of injury or illness could occur?

    1 Negligible
    2 Minor
    3 Major (includes possible long term disabling effects)
    4 Fatality

(b) A probable frequency rating

With this hazard how likely is it that an injury or illness will occur?

    1 Remotely possible
    2 Known to have happened in the past
    3 Strong possibility of it happening
    4 Has happened before within the company
    5 Happens all the time

A risk assessment number for each hazard is compiled by using the table below. Hazards with the highest rating are given priority.


4 3 2 1


5 20 15 10 5
4 16 12 8 4
3 12 9 6 3
2 8 6 4 2
1 4 3 2 1

The numbers are entered into the Risk Score column beside the hazard on the Hazard Management form. "Significant Hazards" are identified according to the definition above. Where a significant hazard is to be controlled, this must, if practicable, be by elimination. Where elimination is not practicable then the hazard must be isolated. Only where both elimination and isolation are not practicable are methods of minimisation to be applied.

Line Managers are responsible for:

  • developing and implementing a programme for the control of significant hazards that have been identified, but have not been permanently controlled. Information on this control programme must be made available to staff members, and should include:
    • the nature and location of the significant hazard;
    • the preferred method of control and steps to be taken;
    • the date by which work is to be completed;
    • the person(s) responsible for the work; and
    • the date the action was completed.

Staff members are responsible for:

  • participating in the process, reporting new actual or potential hazards as they arise and reporting any inadequate control measures.