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    September 19, 2023

    Risk Assessment Steps for Your EHS Department

    One of the biggest responsibilities of any EHS department is controlling (and mitigating) risks in the workplace. Conducting thorough risk assessments on a regular basis can be your best defense against workplace hazards.

    What Is a Risk Assessment?

    In simple terms, a risk assessment is a methodical examination of a task, process, or job in the workplace. During a risk assessment, you examine all components of the task or job to find potential hazards or components that could become risky to people, machinery, or equipment.

    If hazards are present, it’s up to you to determine the steps necessary to avoid any risk associated with the task.

    Risk assessments shouldn’t be confused with your everyday hazard observations. These assessments provide a more detailed look into specific jobs or processes to identify and mitigate potential risks.

    5 Risk Assessments Step to Include Every Time

    Risk assessments might not be part of your daily EHS responsibilities, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less important. There are no hard and fast rules when conducting a risk assessment, but the following general guidelines can help you get the biggest benefit from your efforts:

    #1 – Identify All Hazards

    Part of a successful risk assessment is being able to distinguish the difference between a hazard and a risk. Hazards are components that could potentially cause harm, while risks represent the likelihood of a hazard causing harm.

    Also, it’s not enough to simply identify hazards. You should have a plan in place to document all hazards to give you something to refer back to when planning other areas of your EHS strategy.

    #2 – Determine Who Might Be Harmed and How

    For each hazard you identify, you should also consider who might be harmed by the hazard and how they might become harmed.

    It’s not just your employees you have to worry about, either. Consider contractors, vendors, visitors, and the general public to see how they might be affected.

    Knowing who could be harmed can help you to better control the risk. For instance, threats to employees are controlled differently because you have the advantage of educating them on the risk, whereas a threat to the general public could be more difficult because you aren’t able to alert each individual about the potential hazards.

    #3 – Evaluate Each Risk and Decide How to Combat Them

    Once you determine the risks and who might be harmed, you’re better able to decide how to defend them.

    Can you completely eliminate the risk? Or are there other measures you can take to control the risk and limit its potential to cause harm? It’s important to treat each risk on a case-by-case basis.

    Also, keep in mind that some level of risk may remain even after you take precautions. You should document whatever measures you take to mitigate risk, but also communicate any existing potential for hazard to those likely to be affected by it.

    #4 – Record Your Findings

    Whether you’re able to eliminate the risk or significantly reduce it, you should keep an ongoing record of your activities. Having a longstanding record of your risk assessments and the actions you take to mitigate them are helpful for when you conduct repeat assessments. You can compare your findings over time to ensure you’re moving in the right direction as you tweak and hone your strategy.

    #5 – Review the Risk Assessment

    Risk assessments are not one-and-done deals. Rather, it’s important you schedule routine risk assessments. Workplaces rarely stay the same: machine and equipment can change frequently. Positions are eliminated and created. New substances and procedures may be introduced on a regular basis.

    Because the workplace is a dynamic environment, you should take care to plan risk assessment reviews to keep up with these changes. Reviewing changes, improvements, new insights, and any other existing data can help you create a strong course of action to reduce your risk level.

    How a Risk Assessment Can Improve Your EHS Strategy

    There are a lot of moving parts to any risk assessment, and it’s imperative you take precautions to prevent details from slipping through the cracks. Using risk assessment software to perform and document risk assessment activity can help you stay organized and on track, plus it can house all the data you collect so you have an ongoing record of your efforts.

    If you’re struggling to create an effective risk assessment or simply need a better way to conduct them, feel free to reach out with your questions.

    Further reading8 Enterprise Risk Management Hacks to Help You Make Better Business Decisions

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