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Understanding the Risk Assessment Process

Posted by EHS Insight Resources on November 18, 2019 at 2:27 PM

Every job comes with a certain level of risk. Every industry is prone to certain risks and hazards. Construction and manufacturing are common examples of this.

However, your employees are entitled to a safe workplace. The fact of working a relatively risky job does not limit that right. And it’s up to you, as an employer, to ensure they have a safe working environment.

The risk assessment process helps you identify problems and address them before they can turn into real hazards for your employees. Here’s how it works and what you need to do.

Identify Hazards and Who Might Be Harmed

The first step is relatively simple: identify the potential risks and hazards in your workplace. To do this, you need to know the difference between a risk and a hazard.

A hazard is something that will cause risk, such as chemicals or working on a ladder. A risk is the relative chance, high or low, that the hazard will cause actual harm to someone and the severity of the harm inflicted.

If you’re reviewing safety hazards, for example, the easiest way to do this is to go through your workplace and make a list. Tools lying around? Electrical wires? Cluttered hallways? Lack of safety equipment?

All of these factors are hazards, and they all have a relative level of risk.

The goal here is not to name every possible random accident that might happen to your employees. The goal is to identify any hazards that someone in your workplace is likely to encounter.

You also need to identify who is most at risk from these hazards and how they might be harmed by them. In construction, for example, your employees and passerby are most at risk.

Evaluate the Risks

From there, take time to evaluate the risks you’ve identified.

You know that a hazard poses are certain level of risk. The question now is how much risk that hazard presents, under what circumstances it might become dangerous, and what you can do to stop it.

This is important because you have to know whether safety measures should be taken to prevent these hazards. If safety measures are already in place, take the time to figure out whether they’re doing their job properly or if they’re not doing enough to prevent risk.

If they’re not doing their job, now is the time to revise them. If you don’t have sufficient workplace safety guidelines or protocols in place to prevent these risks, elaborate what kind of protocols you would need to address them.

Record and Implement Your Findings

You know your risks, you know who is at risk, and you know what harm would come from failing to address those risks.

From there, you should record everything you’ve found. Don’t be shy – identifying potential dangers makes it easier to address them. If you haven’t yet, now is the time to start writing new safety protocols. For example, what kind of personal protective equipment (PPE) should your employees be required to wear? What kind of safe handling protocols should employees know?

Once you have your findings and the protocols to respond to them, it’s time to implement them. That doesn’t just mean posting a list of procedures on the wall around the workplace. That means training your employees in the new protocols to ensure that they know how to keep the workplace safe.

Topics: Performance Improvement, Workplace Health and Safety, Risk Management, Job Safety Analysis, Safety Management

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