What is Risk Assessment and how to perform it?

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Risk Assessment

Risk assessment is one of the primary and the most important management tools that ensure the health & safety of workers. A lot of people are not aware of risk assessment.

But, this is a legal requirement for employers and employees in an organization or industry. If you are not sure how to complete a risk assessment or how to relate it with your organization or industry. We will help you to discover everything you want to know.

Understanding Risk Assessment

We can define risk assessment as, a systematic process to identify hazards and evaluate any risks associated with the workplace. And implement any reasonable control method to eliminate or reduce the hazard. Some important terms we need to define here are:

  • Hazard: Anything that causes harm.
  • Accident: We can define an accident as any unplanned event that causes loss.
  • Risk: we define risk as to the likelihood & the severity of a negative occurrence. For example,injury, damage, or loss.

Hence during this process, you must thoroughly look at your workplace to identify the real-time situation and processes, etc. that may cause harm or become the risk of hazard to the employees or workers.

Once you identify the risk or hazard, the next step is to analyze and evaluate how likely and severe the risk is. After you determine this the next step is to decide what measures should be taken to effectively eliminating or controlling the harm from happening.

The whole process includes three steps i.e. :

  1. Hazard identification
  2. Risk analysis
  3. And risk evaluation.

And the whole process is called Risk Assessment. Proper training is required during the whole process. If you want to complete this procedure you will need additional training.

Importance of Risk Assessment

It is one of the important tools to ensure the workplace safety of workers. Some important points are listed below.

  • It creates awareness for any possible workplace risks and hazards.
  • The second importance is that it helps in identifying the people at possible risks such as employees, visitors, contractors, or the public, etc.
  • Risk Assessment help in determining whether a control program is required for a particular hazard.
  • Determine, whether the existing control measures are enough or need any improvements.
  • During the process of planning or designing it prevent injuries or illnesses.
  • It prioritizes hazards and takes control measures to meet the legal requirements.

Read also my detailed article: Importance of Risk Assessment at Workplace

Process of Conducting Risk Assessment

As we defined above, this process consists of three steps i.e. hazard identification, risk analysis, and risk evaluation. Now we will explain the complete procedure involved in each step.

Before we start the data and set the scope for a risk assessment project must be defined. While the basic function is to reduce operational risks, improve safety performance and achieve the desired objectives. 

Risk or Hazard Identification

The risk identification step involves addressing and identify the hazards and risks within a workplace. During the process of risk identification, it is suggested to follow the  ISO 31000-2018 standard protocols. The different risk factors include

  • Tangible & intangible risk or hazard sources
  • Threats & opportunities for an organization
  • Consequences causes, events, and their impact on organization’s objectives
  • Vulnerabilities & capabilities
  • Changes in the external and internal context
  • Time-related factors
  • Indicators of emerging risks
  • Assumptions, beliefs of those involved

A risk assessment team can use different types of methods to identify the hazards. The first method is hazard identification (HAZID). During this method, a qualitative, structured technique for risk identification is adopted. This consists of a checklist of causes and consequences. When this step complete.

In the next step the team use risk assessment matrices and heat map tools to compare and prioritize hazards. Based on the likelihood and severity of a potential incident the safety team analyzes and determines the highest-level risks to address.

Risk Analysis

Once the data is collected in the risk identification process. The next step is risk analysis. During this process, the stakeholders analyze the risk levels and prioritize actions based on existing controls.

During the process of risk analysis, a detailed consideration of uncertainties, consequences, hazards and likelihood, scenarios, events, controls, and their effectiveness is kept in mind. After this, the decision-makers analyze each risk. And start addressing the highest-level risk at first priority.

Risk Evaluation

The final step in risk assessment is risk evaluation. In this step, the safety professionals examine the results of the risk analysis and compare them to established risk criteria. The purpose of this step is to determine whether additional controls are required or not.

And if yes then what type of controls need to be applied. This step provides a more holistic view of risk or hazard and draws a complete picture of a specific hazardous event.

The technique we use here is bow –Tie analysis technique. This technique is centered around a potential incident. It examines the causes of the accident and tries to execute preventive controls at the workplace.

Risk Communication

This is the fourth step of the risk assessment technique. Once we came across the risk in a workplace it must be communicated further. The reason is that proper steps need to be taken to limit the occurrence of hazards or low fatalities.

All the mention steps are necessary and must be considered to ensure safety at the workplace.