Key Steps Involved in Health and Safety Risk Assessment
Organizations that have an OHSMS (Occupational Health and Safety Management System) are well acquainted with the procedure of risk assessment and the steps involved in it. Health and safety risk assessment is an essential part of the OHSMS. It involves identifying the potential risks and hazards in the workplace that could put people at their workplaces in danger. The occupational risks could be of any type, i.e., a minor risk to severe hazard and can cause bodily harm, injuries, permanent or temporary disabilities, psychological effects, and even fatalities. Thus, the risk assessment must be a crucial procedure for an organization to protect its workers. It must be considered as the cornerstone of OHSMS. This blog provides you with a comprehensive guide to completing the risk assessment.
5 Easy Steps Involved in Health and Safety Risk Assessment
Determining the Scope of Assessment
To make your risk assessment highly effective at identifying all types of risks across your workplace, you should first create its scope. It is necessary to ensure that the assessment is conducted in absolute relevance to your work environment and occupational activities. Some of the common examples of scopes are general hazards, equipment risk, substance risk, machinery handling risks, electrical failure risk, and fire risk.
While preparing the scope, the factors that you should keep in mind are risk levels, probability of occurrence, consequences or impacts, acceptable limit, and combination with other risks. Sometimes, you may also have to look through the history or records of occupational hazards so that you can identify the situations which can result in repeat occurrence of a risk.
Specific Considerations for Risk Assessment
While identifying and evaluating the risks in your work environment, there are many aspects that you should consider. They are:
• Handling of hazardous materials
• Conditions under which work activities take place i.e., whether it is conducted indoors or outside
• Different locations/workstations where the level of risk varies
• Times during the day when the risks may be higher
• Direct exposure of workers to risks or high risk-prone equipment
• Activities that are hazardous or physically dangerous
• Possibilities of people other than workers to be affected by the work activities
The risk assessment would not be useful if you are unable to analyze the risks properly with all the available information. Risk analysis also involves deciding the actionable steps required to prevent the risks. Accurate analysis of the risks helps in eliminating the risks or minimizing the severity and frequency of the inevitable risks. The analysis is also important to prioritize the risks according to their severity of impact or acceptability.
Prioritizing the risks is necessary to understand which actions need to be implemented immediately and which can be postponed in addressing the low-impact risks. Most organizations deploy the risk assessment matrix to rank the risks in order of priority. The matrix involves likelihood rating and severity rating on the horizontal and vertical grids. The likelihood ratings go as Rare, Unlikely, Possible, Likely, and Almost Certain. The severity ratings go as Insignificant, Minor, Moderate, Severe, and Catastrophic. The grid layout of the matrix can be modified according to your needs. Based on the assessment with the matrix, you can decide on appropriate risk controls and plan to strategically implement them.
After you have identified all probable risks, ranked them, and decided the controls or measures to address them, it is necessary to make sure that everything is communicated to the employees. Communicating might seem like an easy process, but it is not. You need to ensure there are good modes or systems of communication within your organization so that the identified potential risks are communicated quickly to the workers in real-time.
Communication should not only be about what the risks are, but employees also need to know how to control the risks or minimize them by applying the decided controls. When employees are informed and educated about safety risk assessment and measures for prevention, it highly reduces the chances of accidents and injuries. Thus, a crucial part of communication is training too. With training, the employees can better understand their liabilities for ensuring their own safety as well as the safety of the workplace.
Getting the Risk Plan Ready
Lastly, on completing the risk assessment, you need to have a plan ready to go to ensure the risks are controlled and threats to the workers are eliminated or minimized. To have your plan for controlling the risks ready in hand you need to consider a few more steps such as designing the plan, allocating the needed resources, allocating roles to teams for implementation, monitoring the implemented actions, and making improvements.
There must also be consistent follow-ups of the plan so that necessary adjustments can be made when new risks or hazards are identified.
No doubt, health and safety risk assessment are core values to every organization. An OHSMS is needed by an organization so that its workers can deliver their duties with peace of mind. Risk assessment is the foundation of an OHSMS which is necessary to maintain safer and healthier workplaces for the employees. The first step towards creating a safer workplace is identifying the potential risks and creating enough awareness about them across the organization. These steps of the risk assessment are required to do that. The management team of your organization should be involved in the assessment, but they should also involve the front-line members, employees, auditors, and other related members, to get opinions regarding the required control measures.
If you want to implement OHSMS in your organization for workplace safety and need assistance with risk assessment, get in touch with Compliancehelp Consulting LLC. We are a team of expert ISO consultants having expertise in the ISO 45001 standard and can help you in every way to establish an effective OHSMS. Feel free to contact our team!