The Need for Risk Assessments

We have often come across the term ‘Risk Assessment’ but do we know what does it mean?

 

Risk Assessment can be described as the overall process of:

  • Identifying hazards or risk factors that will have the potential to cause harm
  • Analyzing and evaluating the risk associated with the identified hazard
  • Determining the appropriate ways to eliminate that hazard or if the hazard cannot be eliminated, then a way to control the risk.

 

A risk assessment is an exhaustive assessment at your workplace to identify things, processes or situations that are most likely to cause harm especially to the people working there. Once the identification is made, the team analyses and evaluates how severe the risk is and how likely is it going to occur. Post that, the team decided what measures must be kept in place to stop or control the harm.

Why is a risk assessment important?

Risk assessments are mandatory for any organization as they make up a crucial part of an occupational health and safety management plan. Risk assessments are important because they help in:

  • Creating awareness of potential risks and hazards
  • Identifying the people at risk
  • Ascertaining if a control program is needed for the potential risk ro hazard
  • Determining if the existing control measures are sufficient or whether they need to be updated
  • Preventing injuries or illnesses right at the design or planning stage
  • Prioritizing the hazards and control measures
  • If applicable, meeting legal requirements.

 

What is the goal of risk assessment?

 

The main objective of the risk assessment process is to appraise potential hazards followed by its removal or minimizing the level of risk by adding the mandatory control measures. Establishing a safer and healthier workplace is the end goal of a risk assessment.

One can accomplish the goal of a risk assessment by answering the following questions:

  • What can happen and under what circumstances?
  • What are the possible consequences?
  • How likely are the possible consequences to occur?
  • Is the potential risk or hazard controlled effectively or is further action required?  

When is the right time for a risk assessment?

A risk assessment may be needed at different stages, including:

  • Before the introduction of new processes or activities
  • Before existing processes or activities are changed
  • When any potential hazard or risks are identified.

How do you plan for a risk assessment?

While planning for a risk assessment, keep in mind the:

  • Scope of the risk assessment
  • Resources needed
  • Type of risk analysis measures that will be used
  • Stakeholders involved
  • Relevant laws, regulations, codes or standards that may apply in your jurisdiction, as well as the organization's policies and procedures.

 

A risk assessment should be conducted by a competent person or a trained team of individuals who have working knowledge of the situations being studied (for e.g. supervisors or workers). You can also include them as sources of information.

One must remember that the assessment must not only take into account the current situations of the workplace but also any potential situations that may come up in the future.

Once the level of the potential risk or hazard is determined, the employer, and the health and safety committee, can decide whether a control program is required and to what level.

Why is it important to review and monitor the assessments?

It is essential that you check if your risk assessment is accurate and complete. One must also remember to keep the risk assessments update in case of new changes have been introduced in the workplace or if there is any change in the priority of the hazards.

As a rule of the thumb, remember to review your risk assessments on regular basis to ensure that the control methods are effective.