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What is a Risk Assessment?

As part of managing the health and safety of your business you must control the risks in your workplace. To do this you need to think about what might cause harm to people and decide whether you are taking reasonable steps to prevent that harm. This is known as risk assessment and it is something you are required by law to carry out.

A risk assessment is not about creating huge amounts of paperwork , but rather about identifying sensible measures to control the risks in your workplace. You are probably already taking steps to protect your employees, but your risk assessment will help you decide whether you  have covered all you need to.

Think about how accidents and ill health could happen and concentrate on real risks – those that are most likely and which will cause the most harm.

For some risks, other regulations require particular control measures. Your assessment can help you identify where you need to look at certain risks and these particular control measures in more detail. These control measures do not have to be assessed separately but can be considered as part of, or an extension of, your overall risk assessment.

Risk assessment is a term used to describe the overall process or method where you:

  • Identify hazards and risk factors that have the potential to cause harm (hazard identification).
  • Analyze and evaluate the risk associated with that hazard (risk analysis, and risk evaluation).
  • Determine appropriate ways to eliminate the hazard, or control the risk when the hazard cannot be eliminated (risk control).

A risk assessment is a thorough look at your workplace to identify those things, situations, processes, etc. that may cause harm, particularly to people. After identification is made, you analyze and evaluate how likely and severe the risk is. When this determination is made, you can next, decide what measures should be in place to effectively eliminate or control the harm from happening.

Why is a Risk Assessment Important?

Risk assessments are very important as they form an integral part of an occupational health and safety management system. They help to:

  • Create awareness of hazards and risk.
  • Identify who may be at risk (e.g., employees, cleaners, visitors, contractors, the public, etc.).
  • Determine whether a control program is required for a particular hazard.
  • Determine if existing control measures are adequate or if more should be done.
  • Prevent injuries or illnesses, especially when done at the design or planning stage.
  • Prioritize hazards and control measures.
  • Meet legal requirements where applicable.

What is the goal of a Risk Assessment?

The aim of the risk assessment process is to evaluate hazards, then remove that hazard or minimize the level of its risk by adding control measures, as necessary. By doing so, you have created a safer and healthier workplace.

The goal of a risk assessment is to:

  • reduce health and safety incidents,
  • raise awareness on health and safety hazards,
  • set standards of safe and good work practices,
  • to comply with the legislation and prevent offences and penalties,
  • to inform employees of the hazards associated with their work activities, and
  • to ensure a safe and healthy work environment.

Type of Risk Assessments

Their are different ways of performing a risk assessment, the legislation does not indicate how we are required to perform a risk assessment, only that the employer shall:

“establishing, as far as is reasonably practicable, what hazards to the health and safety or persons are attached to any work which is performed, any article or substance which is produced, processed, used, handled, stored or transported and any plant or machinery which is used in his business, and he shall as far as is reasonably practicable, further establish what precautionary measures should be taken with respect to such work, article, substance, plant and machinery in order to protect the health and safety of persons, and he shall provide the necessary means to apply such precautionary measures;” – Occupational Health and Safety Act No 85 of 1993 Section 8 General Duties of employers to their employees

Therefore many forms of risk assessments can be found, however the most well known risk assessment types commonly known and used are:

  • Baseline Risk Assessments
  • Issue Based Risk Assessments
  • Continuous Risk Assessments

How to perform a Risk Assessment

There are no fixed rules on how a risk assessment should be carried out, but there are a few general principles that should be followed.

Griffin occupational health and safety solutions uses a 8 step guide included in their risk methodology when conducting a risk assessment:

  1. Identify the Task
  2. Identify the Hazards
  3. Identify the Risk
  4. Evaluate the Risk
  5. Identify the Controls
  6. Evaluate the Residual Risk
  7. Monitor the Task
  8. Review the Risk

Step 1: Identify the Task

It is important to identify the task being performed, or the item being assess in order to establish a scope. For example: Repairing an electrically driven motor.

 

Step 2: Identify the Hazard

Once the task has been identified the risk assessor can identify the hazard, a single task may have more than one hazard. For example: Electricity, Rotating machine parts, heavy object, sharp objects, etc.

 

Step 3: Identify the Risk

The results of a hazard, each hazard may have more than one risk. For example: electrical shock may resulting in death or electrical burns, rotating machine parts may result in lacerations, fractures, crushing injuries, or amputations.

 

Step 4: Evaluating the Risk

GMR uses a 3 variable risk matrix to determine the risk rating of a risk, namely; Exposure (how often is a person exposed in doing the hazard?), Severity (how severe are the consequences of the risk?) Probability (what are the chances of the risk to occur when a person is being exposed to the hazard?)

 

Step 5: Identify Controls

After each risk has been evaluated, the risk assessor and risk assessment team provide recommendations of controls, such as engineering, administrative and PPE controls in order to eliminate, reduce, transfer, or accept the risk.

 

Step 6: Evaluate the Residual Risk

The Risk Assessor re evaluates the risk again, considering the controls currently in place to determine the probability, exposure, and severity of the risk. based on this outcome, the employer can determine if the activity is acceptably safe to perform.

 

Step 7: Monitor the task

Supervisors and managers implement and enforce the risk assessment, providing training and information to employees. Obtaining feedback and recommendations to improve the risk assessment.

 

Step 8: Review the Risk

After some time and after receiving feedback from workers, the risk assessor must review the risk assessment to ensure that no new hazards, risks and controls have been identified. He also ensures that the risk rating remains unchanged and still remains the same as agreed upon with the risk assessment team.

How can Griffin occupational health and safety solutions assist with Risk Assessments?

Griffin occupational health and safety solutions Risk Assessment services can assist clients with risk assessment solutions ranging from:

  • Developing a risk methodology that is suitable to your industry and organisation based on available resources.
  • Assisting with Baseline Risk Assessment requirements.
  • Developing task based risk assessments.
  • Developing continuous risk assessments.
  • Developing Safe Work Procedures.