How do you manage a risk without first identifying it? Risk Identification or within the concept of WHS, “HAZID” is a fundamental step in the Risk Management Model and requires a well-structured systematic process.
Hazard identification is the process to find, recognise and record potential hazards. The purpose of this process is to identify all potential hazards to persons and property both within the control of the organisation as well as external factor that can impact it. Hazard identification may be accomplished by identifying causes and effects (what could happen and what will follow) or effects and causes what outcomes are to be avoided and how each might occur)
There are a number of methods that can be utilised in achieving this including:
- Review of activities by way of inspections, walk throughs as well as utilising checklists
- Review of historical data, records including accident & incident records and near misses and industry accident statistics
- Review of Drawings and Plans
- Review of technical reports and papers
- Review of models and computer simulations
- Systematic team approaches
- Review of legislation
- Review of major accidents
- employees , contractors
- emergency services
- safety professionals
- union representatives
- Regulatory Bodies.
Risk Analysis is the next step in the Risk Management Model. This step is about providing the employer and employees with sufficient objective knowledge, awareness and understanding of the risk of the hazards identified and recorded. It also provides a basis for identifying, evaluating, defining and justifying the selection of control measures for eliminating or reducing risk.
Risk analysis involves the considerations of the sources of risk (Hazards identified) their consequences and the likelihood that those consequences may occur.
There are a variety of methods in analysing risk which can be qualitative, semi quantitative or quantitative. The degree of detail required will depend on each situation. Some risk analysis methods may be prescribed within legislation.
Care should be taken in expressing risk levels to ensure that they are suitable and relevant in order to assist in the risk evaluation step.
Following on from the risk analysis step is risk evaluation with a purpose to assist organisations in making decisions, based on the outcomes of risk analysis, about which risks need treatment and treatment priorities.
Risk evaluation involves comparing the level of risk found during the analysis with risk criteria established when the context was considered. The as low as reasonably practicable or ALARP method is commonly used within WHS as it provides organisations decision making based on a number of factors including weighing a risk against the trouble, time and money needed to control it. ALARP describes the level to which organisations expect to see workplace risks controlled.
While the objective of WHS risk management is to minimize work related ill health and injury, it is not possible to reduce all WHS risks to zero. Risk is inherent in all activity (and inactivity) it is during this step organisations will pass judgement on when risks have been reduced sufficiently.
The output if the risk evaluation step is the production of a prioritised list of risks for further action. This list will assist organisations in making decisions on what is considered acceptable or tolerable by the organisation and to what level treatment is required.
The final step is the risk treatment or controls. Once risks have been prioritised through the evaluation process, plans need to be developed. Risk control plans may involve the re-design of existing controls, the introduction of new controls or monitoring of existing controls. Low impact risks require only periodic monitoring while major risks are likely to require more intense management focus. Within the context of WHS the Hierarchy of Control is used in the treatment of risks. The options at the top of the list are more effective, as they address the hazard (the thing that could cause harm), rather than just reduce the risk (the harm that the hazard could cause).
The hierarchy of controls is as follows:
- Eliminate the hazard altogether;
- Substitute the hazard with a safer alternative;
- Isolate the hazard from anyone who could be harmed;
- Engineering controls to reduce the risk;
- Administrative controls to reduce the risk; and
- Personal protective equipment (PPE).
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