The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

Identifying Other Radiation Sources

Jay Stansell - Friday, February 25, 2011

Carrying on the theme from last week where we talked about thermal radiation hazards, this week we move on to address other radiation sources that can be a problem in workplaces.

Non-ionizing Radiation

Non-ionizing radiation involves electromagnetic radiation that does not carry enough energy to ionize atoms or molecules - that is - to completely remove an electron from an atom or molecule.  Examples of non-ionizing radiation include:

»            Near ultraviolet visible light (e.g., radiation found in sunlight);

»            Infra-red radiation;

»            Long Frequency Radio waves;

»            Ultrasound; and

»            Microwaves.

Ionizing Radiation

Ionizing radiation refers to any type of electromagnetic radiation that carries enough energy to ionize atoms or molecules - that is - to completely remove an electron from an atom or molecule. 

In humans, exposure to this type of very powerful radiation can cause cellular and molecular changes such as mutations, chromosome aberrations, and cell-killing.  At high doses, it is well-established that ionizing radiation is capable of increasing the cancer rate in exposed populations; at low levels of exposure, it is not possible to detect changes in cancer frequency.

Common use of ionizing radiation within workplaces includes: Non Destructive Testing (NDT) using X-ray and Gamma-ray isotopes and medical X-rays.

Identifying Heat - Radiation Sources

Jay Stansell - Friday, February 18, 2011

There are numerous sub-types of radiation energy hazards.  One of the main types to worry about at work is heat and cold or thermal radiation.

Heat and/or cold is a serious workplace hazard whether working in hot or cold conditions or working with hot or cold materials. 

Working in the heat or cold can cause a range of body symptoms leading all the way through to fatality.

Severe burns can also occur as a direct result of accidental contact with hot or extremely cold surfaces (so-called freeze-burns) and steam.

When are hazards not hazards?

Graham Marshall - Saturday, February 12, 2011
Written below is a list of so-called hazards.  The unfortunate thing is that in actual fact, nothing on the list is a hazard. 

Read the list and try to work out why these things are not hazards!

  • Poor housekeeping.  
  • Poor ventilation;
  • Working in a too-cool or too-hot environment;
  • Loose carpet;
  • Slick floors;
  • Loose steps;
  • Poor lighting;
  • Poorly stacked materials in storeroom; 
  • Not holding the handrail when ascending or descending stairs;
  • Windowless doors;
  • Sitting looking at computer screens;
  • Repetitive motions;
  • Use of drug/alcohol at work; 
  • Ice on the pavement;
  • Corrosion in pipe work;
  • Driving a car too fast (or too slow);
  • Working at height without fall restraint;
  • Jobs with no JSA or JHA;
  • Jobs with no permit to work;
  • Lack of risk assessment of work place conditions;
  • Poor safety supervision;
  • Inadequate "management of change" (MOC);
  • Inadequate facility hazard identification;
  • Lack of Hazop Analysis.

So if they're not hazards, firstly, why not?  And secondly, what exactly  are they?

Leave a comment if you know the answers?  Or purchase our hazard awareness manual - that way you will really know what hazards are!

Identifying Radiation Sources

Jay Stansell - Friday, February 11, 2011

There are numerous sub-types of radiation energy hazards.  All sources of radiation have the potential to cause harm.  Common examples include the following types:

»            Thermal energy;

»            Non-ionizing radiation

»            Ionizing radiation; and

»            Noise.

I’ll talk over the next couple of weeks about radiation hazards in a little more detail – so come back next week.

Identifying Hazardous Substances

Jay Stansell - Friday, February 04, 2011

There are many kinds of chemical products and other hazardous substances in use in workplaces that have the potential to cause harm. 

There are three broad types of substances in use:

SOLIDS have a definite shape and physical mass.  They include dusts, fibres and powders, which consist of small particles.  An example of a solid hazardous substance is ammonium nitrate fertilizer.

LIQUIDS are substances that flow, like paint or water.  Mists are formed when liquid is broken up into small droplets by being pumped or sprayed.

GASES float and move freely in air.  Often they can’t be seen or smelt, but they can still be inhaled along with the air you breathe.  An example is carbon monoxide.  Vapours come from liquids that have evaporated into the air and have transformed into a gaseous state.  For example paint thinners or petrol vapour. 

Hazardous Substances are associated with several types of known incidents.  As such they have the potential to cause serious consequences and they can do this in several ways.  There are at least four routes of entry by which people come into contact with and are harmed by substances.

INHALATION - where a substance enters a person’s lungs.  Fine dusts and fibres can stay in your lungs and gases and vapours can be absorbed into your bloodstream and carried to other parts of the body.

INGESTION - inadvertently swallow a harmful substance after working with it by eating, drinking or smoking cigarettes.

ABSORPTION - some chemicals harm the skin directly and cause burns, irritation, rashes or dermatitis.  Others pass right through the skin and enter the bloodstream especially if the skin is cut, cracked or dry.

INJECTION – the passage of a substance into the body via a pressure mechanism.  This can include the injection of high-pressure hydraulic fluid from a ruptured hose or air-embolism.

Other common incidents involving hazardous substances include fires, explosions, high-pressure release (e.g., gas release), spills, loss of containment and prolonged exposure.

Identifying Kinetic Hazards

Jay Stansell - Friday, January 28, 2011

Kinetic hazards take two main forms.  Firstly is the energy associated with motion or the potential for motion.  Motion hazards are most commonly linked to mechanical energy but other forms of movement are hazards as well.

You will find this hazard in moving vehicles, slamming doors, sea-waves, flying aircraft, turning fan blades and suspended loads.  You will also find kinetic or potential energy hazards wherever you get stored or trapped pressure.

If the pressure is uncontrollably released, the pressurized energy will usually transform itself into movement (flying objects).  It will also often transform into noise (from the explosive release) and/or heat (if pressurized flammable gas ignites).  Forms of kinetic energy include:

  • Motion energy (e.g., energy involved in moving a forklift). 

  • The greater the mass and speed of an object the more kinetic energy is contained; and  

  • Mechanical energy (e.g., the energy contained or created by turning gear cogs);  

  • Potential energy (e.g., the energy “stored” in a suspended load).

Pressure is energy that is applied to or contained within a liquid or gas that is stored inside some kind of containment vessel (e.g., a gas cylinder).  Pressure energy can be found in:

  • »            Pressure piping and hoses;
  • »            Process equipment;
  • »            Pressure control lines;
  • »            Gas cylinders; and Hydraulic or pneumatic tools.

The Energy Model of Hazards

Jay Stansell - Friday, January 21, 2011


To help understand the concept of the energy model of hazards, firstly we should clarify the different energy types that exist.



Energy is the power to change things and the ability to do work.  Energy makes things move, makes them hot or cold, produces light and sound, and puts them under pressure, under stress or strain.  Sometimes, the energy can harm people.



Without turning this blog into a physics or chemistry manual, there are many forms of energy but they can all be generalised into eight broad types.  There are, of course, many sub-types and sub-classifications that can also be made.  The eight types of hazards are illustrated in the figure below.  Starting next week, I’ll describe each energy hazard in turn.






Duty of Care for Hazard identification

Jay Stansell - Friday, January 07, 2011

The basic ability to apply hazard spotting is so important that it’s mandated by law for employers and employees to ensure that workplace hazards are identified, understood and controlled.  For example, a typical Law passed in Australia states: An employer carries out the general statutory duty of care by proceeding in a systematic way to:

»            Identify hazards;
»            Identify and assess the seriousness of the risks resulting from the hazards;
»            Determine appropriate risk management measures;
»            Carry out the risk management measures; and
»            Monitor and review the effectiveness of the measures.


Almost every major country – the UK, USA, NZ, South Africa and Canada – will have similar concepts of law regarding “duty of care” of employers and employees. At the Risk Tool Box, we believe that the energy model of hazards offers a fantastic description of hazards because of its ability to assist workers, supervisors and managers to clearly define and classify any hazard under the category of an energy type. The energy hazard model is based on an understanding that all hazards are energy sources and preventative measures must be designed and implemented to control that energy.  As such we now arrive at a good definition for the word “hazard”. “A hazard is any energy source with the potential to cause unwanted harm.” But the challenge in adopting the energy hazard concept is twofold:

1.      It’s not yet widely used by general industry; and

2.      It requires a paradigm shift in commonly-held thinking and beliefs.

The paradigm shift requires a move away from generic (“waffly”) thinking about hazards to very specific thinking about them.  This can be very difficult to accept because it challenges the current generic beliefs and understandings about what people believe to be hazards. The benefit of adopting this concept is, however, that it provides workers with the ability to identify tangible hazards and to then implement effective measures to keep the hazards under control. Over the coming weeks, I’ll be blogging about the range of energy hazards we all face in our respective workplaces.

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