Jun 15th 2022
The Importance of Conducting Risk Assessments to Keep Workplace Safety in Check
Discover the significance of a risk assessment in protecting your organisation or workplace from hazards and risks. Foster a culture of safety among employees by regularly conducting it.
What is a Risk Assessment?
A risk assessment is a process or method used to identify risks and hazards in the workplace. It is also used to assess the potential impact of these risks on business operations.
Purpose of Conducting a Risk Assessment
When it comes to safety in the workplace, one of the most important things you can do is conduct a risk assessment. You can use it to:
- Identify workplace hazards – risks can come from many sources, including chemical, physical, ergonomic, psychological, and social threats. It's essential to identify all potential sources of risk in your workplace to assess, prevent, and control them.
- Assess the potential impact of these risks – once you have identified them, you need to assess their potential impact or consequences. This will help you prioritise the risks, and develop a plan to address them.
- Develop control measures to reduce or eliminate the risks – after identifying and assessing them, you need to develop control measures to reduce or eliminate them. This may include changes to working procedures, employee training, or personal protective equipment.
- Monitor the risks and control measures – once you have implemented control measures, you need to observe them to ensure they are effective. This may involve regular audits or inspections of the workplace.
Understanding the Importance of a Risk Assessment
As a business owner, you are accountable for the safety of your employees and customers. To prevent casualties, you must guarantee that your workplace is free of risks. One approach is to do a risk assessment.
What is Risk?
Most people use ‘risk’ and ‘hazard’ interchangeably, but they are two distinct concepts. A hazard is anything that can cause harm, while the risk is the likelihood of that hazard causing damage. For example, faulty electrical wiring in your home is a hazard. The risk is the likelihood of that hazard causing harm, such as a fire.
Risk is the probability or likelihood of an unlikely event and its consequences happening. In other words, the risk is the likelihood of an unlikely occurrence. The different types of risk, are:
- Financial– the probability of a financial loss. For example, losing money in an investment.
- Physical – the probability of a bodily injury. For example, getting hurt in a car accident.
- Safety – the probability of an injury or death. For example, dying in a fire.
- Health – the probability of a health problem. For example, getting cancer from smoking cigarettes.
- Environmental – the probability of an environmental problem. For example, an oil spill.
All risks have the potential to cause harm. The degree of harm caused by a hazard is called the "severity." The likelihood of a risk happening is called the "probability." Some risks are more likely to occur than others. For example, the likelihood of dying in a car accident is much higher than in a fire. However, the severity of the harm caused by a car accident can be much lower than the severity of the damage caused by a fire. This is why it is crucial to consider the risk's probability and severity when assessing it.
When to Conduct a Risk Assessment?
Whenever there is a possibility that a change in an organisation could have an effect on the safety of your employees or customers, you should carry out a risk assessment. For instance, you should carry out a risk assessment if any of the following apply to you:
- Making preparations to launch a new product or service
- Shifting your methods of completing tasks
- Relocating to a new location
- Making changes to your workplace
- Using new machines or equipment
- Altering the materials you use
5 Steps of the Risk Assessment Process
When it comes to completing a risk assessment, there is no one method that applies to all situations. The size, nature, and level of complexity of your organisation will determine the approach that you use. There are five specific steps in managing risks and risk assessment at work. They are:
- Identify hazards - look for hazards in your workplace. Consider the potential hazards to health, such as those posed by manual labour, the use of chemicals, and the sources of stress that are related to the work.
- Assess the risks - evaluate the risks to health posed by the identified hazards. Consider how likely it is that someone will be harmed and how seriously they could be harmed if they are exposed to the hazard.
- Control the risks - select the most effective control measures that are available and practical to eliminate or reduce the risks to health.
- Record your findings - make a record of the hazards you have identified, the risks you have assessed, and the control measures you have put in place.
- Review the controls - review and update your risk assessment regularly to ensure it is up to date.
Types of Risk Assessments
Risk assessments identify, assess, and manage potential risks to an organisation, individual, or the environment. It is a process that helps you decide how to deal with the risks you have identified. There are two types of risk assessments:
- Quantitative risk assessment - pertains to the type of risk assessment that uses mathematical models to estimate the likelihood and severity of the risks.
- Qualitative risk assessment - pertains to the type of risk assessment that uses expert judgment to estimate the likelihood and severity of the risks.
The main goal of conducting a risk assessment is to reduce the probability and severity of the risks. You can do it by taking action to prevent or control the risks. It is important to remember that not all risks can be eliminated. Some risks can only be reduced. For example, the risk of getting cancer from smoking cigarettes can be reduced by quitting smoking.
Risk Assessment vs. Risk Management
Risk assessment is different from risk management. Risk management is making decisions about how to deal with the risks you have identified. It includes taking action to reduce the risks. Risk assessment is only one step in the risk management process.
Tools and Techniques
Conducting a risk assessment can be done in different ways. There are four tools or techniques for conducting a risk assessment.
A risk matrix is a simple way to display the probability and severity levels of risks visually. It's used during the assessment so you can see what level or likelihood of consequences there may be. The risk matrix has two axes: the horizontal axis is the probability or likelihood of an occurrence, and the vertical axis is the severity or consequence of a circumstance. The probability and severity levels are typically classified into low, medium, and high.
Once the risks have been identified and assessed, they can be plotted on the risk matrix. The risks are then prioritised based on their position in the matrix. The risks in the upper-right corner of the matrix (high probability and high severity) are the highest priority, and the risks in the lower-left corner (low likelihood and low severity) are the lowest priority.
A decision tree is a graphical representation of the decision-making process. It's used to identify all the possible outcomes of a decision and the associated risks. The tree starts with a single node, representing the decision to be made. The branches of the tree represent the possible outcomes of the decision, and the leaves of the tree represent the risks associated with those outcomes.
The decision tree can be used to identify the risks associated with a decision and evaluate the possible outcomes. It can also be used to compare different options and to choose the option that is most likely to lead to the desired outcome.
Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA)
FMEA is a tool used to identify the potential failure modes of a product or process and assess the risks associated with those failure modes. FMEA is a systematic and structured approach to identifying the possible failure modes of development or operation and evaluating the risks associated with those failure modes.
FMEA is typically used during the design phase of a product or process, but it can also be used during the development, production, and service phases.
A bowtie model is a tool used to visually display the relationships between hazards, consequences, and controls. The bowtie model has three components:
- Hazards - the potential sources of harm.
- Consequences - the potential outcomes of the hazard.
- Controls - the measures that are in place to prevent or mitigate the impacts of the hazard.
The bowtie represents a clear distinction between proactive and reactive risk management. The power of this graphic is that it provides an overview of multiple possible scenarios, all within one diagram.
By conducting risk assessment, you can ensure your workplace is as safe as possible. Having the right tools for the job is essential, and with risk assessment software, you can properly and efficiently assess workplace risks. Ensure your workplace is safe by utilising the appropriate methods, documents, forms, or checklists.
Risk Assessment Software
There are a number of risk assessment software available to help you identify and assess the risks to your business. One such tool is iAuditor by SafetyCulture
iAuditor is a mobile and web-based application that lets you create, edit, and share safety audits and inspections. It helps you identify hazards, assess risks, and track corrective actions. iAuditor is a global leader in workplace safety and quality assurance. The company's innovative software helps businesses worldwide deliver more than 600M checks per year for compliance with regulations, industry standards, or best practices - all from one easy-to-use platform!
- Assign corrective actions
- Corrective and Preventive Actions (CAPA)
- Risk Assessment and Management
- Operational Risk Management
- Occupational Health Management
Strengthen your Risk Assessment with SafetyDocs
Regarding safety, you must not let your guard down even for a second. A risk assessment is a key to safety in any workplace. You might not know where and how to start, but you can strengthen protection in your workplace by keeping the proper guidance in assessing the risks at hand. With SafetyDocs by SafetyCulture, you can always be ready for an audit and avoid potential penalties.
With our content-rich and customisable templates, you can save time, money, and resources by streamlining health and safety management. As a market leader in the online documentation for HSEQ (Health Safety Environment Quality), we offer Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) templates, Safe Operating Procedures (SOPs) templates, Management System Content, Safety Management Plans, Checklists, Forms & Registers, all designed to meet your organisation's needs!
SafetyDocs can provide you with:
- Up-to-date safety templates to guide you with changes in the legislation for safety standards
- Guidance in conducting risk assessment using our Risk Assessment Form
- Industry-specific HSEQ documents for risk assessment
- A catalogue of safety documents that can be quickly and easily purchased
Available for instant download and supplied in fully editable MS Word format for use in your business.
Please note that the above information is provided as a comment only and should not be relied on as professional, legal or financial advice.
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