SafetyCulture Summit 2021
Identify, analyze, and mitigate potential hazards and the risks associated with it.
Published April 12th, 2021
A risk assessment is a systematic process that involves identifying, analyzing and controlling hazards and risks. It is performed by a competent person to determine which measures are, or should be, in place to eliminate or control the risk in the workplace in any potential situation.
Risk assessment is one of the major components of a risk analysis. Risk analysis is a process with multiple steps that intends to identify and analyze all of the potential risks and issues that are detrimental to the business. This is an ongoing process that gets updated when necessary. These concepts are interconnected and can be used individually.
Risk communication is the process of exchanging information and opinion on risk to concerned parties. Risk management is the proactive control and evaluation of threats and risks to prevent accidents, uncertainties and errors. Together with risk assessment, these are all vital elements that help make informed decisions such as mitigating risks.
Risk Analysis Framework
Identifying hazards by using the risk assessment process is a key element when ensuring the health and safety of your employees and customers. OSHA requires businesses to conduct risk assessments. According to regulations set by OSHA, assessing hazards or potential risk will determine the personal protective gears and equipment a worker may need for their job. There are guidelines available for different industries since present types of possible risks may vary, an example of this is agribusinesses. Unique risks for this industry include manure storage, tractor operation, animal handling, behavior, and health.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the US specializes in assessing hazards related to humans and its environmental receptors such as animals, chemicals, and other ecological factors. While in the UK, conducting risk assessments are a legal requirement as stated in the Health and Safety at Work Act. The specific regulation under this law can be retrieved from the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations Section.
The gravity of hazard identifications is clear with all these organizations and governments requiring risk assessments at work. Prevent and reduce risks to save lives and to ensure that the workplace stays as a safe space.
Beyond complying with legislative requirements, the purpose of risk assessments are to eliminate operational risks and improve the overall safety of the workplace. It is employers responsibility to perform risk assessments when:
Risk assessments are often confused with a Job Safety Analysis (JSA) or Job Hazard Analysis (JHA). The key difference between a risk assessment and a JSA is scope. Risk assessments assess safety hazards across the entire workplace and are oftentimes accompanied with a risk matrix to prioritize hazards and controls. Whereas a JSA focuses on job-specific risks and are typically performed for a single task, assessing each step of the job.
While the exact details of risk assessments may vary greatly across different industries, HSE distinguishes three general risk assessment types:
Risk assessments are essential to identify hazards and risks that may potentially cause harm to workers. There are a variety of risk assessments used across different industries tailoring specific needs and control measures. Here are common risk assessment examples:
Construction Risk Assessment Checklist | iAuditor
Risk assessments can be seen as a regulatory paperwork burden, but understanding the reason and purpose of a risk assessment will help your team identify, prioritize and control hazards in your workplace.
Risk assessments should be carried out by competent persons who are experienced in assessing hazard injury severity, likelihood, and control measures. To start off, good planning will be essential in order to implement a risk assessment effectively. Consider the following 4 elements as stated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA):
By determining all of these, you can create a solid foundation for an effective risk assessment. Once you’ve planned out your risk assessment, you can proceed with performing the risk assessment. A risk assessment is performed in 5 steps or stages.
There are options on the tools and techniques that can be seamlessly incorporated into a business’ process. The four common risk assessment tools are: risk matrix, decision tree, failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA), and bowtie model. Other risk assessment techniques include what-if analysis, failure tree analysis, and hazard operability analysis.
A risk matrix is often used during a risk assessment to measure the level of risk by considering the consequence/ severity and likelihood of injury to a worker after being exposed to a hazard. The two measures can then help determine the overall risk rating of the hazard. Two key questions to ask when using a risk matrix should be:
In assessing the consequences of a hazard, the first question should be asked “If a worker is exposed to this hazard, how bad would the most probable severe injury be?”. For this consideration we are presuming that a hazard and injury is inevitable and we are only concerned with its severity.
It is common to group the injury severity and consequence into the following four categories:
To illustrate how this can be used in the workplace we will use the example of a metal shearing task. A hazard involved could include a piece of metal flying out of the equipment while in use. In this example the probable most severe injury would be “Major or Serious Injury” with the possibility of bruising, breakage, finger amputation.
In assessing the likelihood, the question should be asked “If the hazard occurs, how likely is it that the worker will be injured?”. This should not be confused with how likely the hazard is to occur. It is common to group the likelihood of a hazard causing worker injury into the following four categories:
In our metal shearing example the question should not be “How likely is the machine expected to fail?” but instead “When the machine fails and causes metal to fly out, how likely is the worker expected to be injured?”. If in our example we observe a safe distance between the machine and worker and proper PPE being worn, we could rate it as “Unlikely” given our observations
We recommend OSHA’s great learning resources in understanding how to assess consequence and likelihood in your risk assessments.
After identifying and assigning a risk rating to a hazard, effective controls should be implemented to protect workers. Working through a hierarchy of controls can be an effective method of choosing the right control measure to reduce the risk.
Below is the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s Hierarchy of Controls that can help guide you in the process of formulating your organization’s control measures.
NIOSH Hierarchy of Controls
OSHA recommends the following guidelines to accomplish hazard control
Many factors and processes can come into play when conducting a risk assessment. The process usually takes a lot of time as it involves going through multiple hands for review and completion. Which in turn, opens the whole risk assessment procedure to issues like losing track of paperwork and records.
Using a risk assessment app like iAuditor makes it easy for you to have everything in one place. Organizations are able to track hazards, risks, control measures, and corrective actions within just a few taps.
See how iAuditor can help your risk assessment every step of the way:
iAuditor gives you the flexibility to power any inspection you require – onsite, underground, and across the globe. Inspect construction sites, restaurants inspections for food safety, conduct temperature checks, pre-flight checks, toolbox talks and more. It is the mobile forms inspection solution for all industries.
Risk assessments are traditionally completed through pen-and-paper checklists which are inconvenient when reports and action plans are urgently needed. Streamline the process with iAuditor by SafetyCulture, a mobile app solution. Get started by browsing this collection of customizable Risk Assessment templates that you can download for free.
Jai is a content writer for SafetyCulture based in Manila. She has been writing well-researched articles about health and safety topics since 2018. She is passionate about empowering businesses to utilize technology in building a culture of safety and quality.
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