Risk assessment tips

by George Robotham on September 27, 2013

in George Robotham,Risk Assessment



George’s Safety Reflections

Risk assessment tips

The risk management process consists of hazard identification, risk assessment and hazard control. Some people tend to get fixated on the risk assessment part and do not place enough emphasis on hazard control. Personally I find Haddon’s 10 countermeasures more useful than the hierarchy of controls when developing controls

Risk assessment is the cornerstone of many organisations approach to OHS. The reality is that it can be a very subjective process and an over-concentration on risk scores can mislead badly.

The traditional wisdom for simple risk assessments is to use a matrix consisting of Probability and Consequence or Probability, Consequence and Exposure. I prefer the latter method developed by Fine.

The following tips are given to improve the efficiency of the risk assessment process-

  1. Replicate the situation you are assessing as accurately as possible
  2. Use a team approach, about 5 people seems a workable number
  3. Ensure team members are highly experienced in the risks being assessed.
  4. Reality check the risk assessment with the workforce
  5. Ensure team members are trained in risk assessment
  6. Have developed risk assessments reviewed by an appropriately qualified and experienced, objective third party
George Robotham

George Robotham

George was a Legend in the Safety World who passed away in Sept 2013 but left us with a great legacy
George Robotham
I have worked in OHS for most of my working life, many years in the mining industry including over 10 years in a corporate OHS role with BHP. Since leaving the mining industry I have worked in a variety of safety roles with a variety of employers, large & small, in a variety of industries. I was associated with my first workplace fatality at age 21, the girl involved was young, intelligent, vivacious and friendly. Such a waste! I was the first on the scene and tried to comfort her and tend to her injuries. She said to me “George, please do not let me die” We put her on the aerial ambulance to Rockhampton base hospital where she died the next day. I do not mind telling you that knocked me around for awhile. Since then I have helped my employers cope with the aftermath of 12 fatalities and 2 other life-altering events. The section "Why do Occupational Health & Safety" provides further detail but in summary, poor safety is simply very expensive and also has a massive humanitarian cost. My qualifications include a certificate I.V. in Workplace Training and Assessment, a Diploma in Frontline Management, a Diploma in Training & Assessment Systems, a Bachelor of Education (Adult & Workplace Education) , a Grad. Cert. in Management of Organisational Change and a Graduate Diploma in Occupational Hazard Management. I am currently studying towards a Masters in Business Leadership. Up until recently I had been a Chartered Fellow of the Safety Institute of Australia for 10 years and a member for about 30 years. My interest is in non-traditional methods of driving organisational change in OHS and I have what I believe is a healthy dis-respect for many common approaches to OHS Management and OHS Training. I hold what I believe is a well-founded perception that many of the things safety people and management do in safety are “displacement activities” (Displacement activities are things we do, things we put a lot of energy into, but which when we examine them closely there is no valid reason for doing them). My managerial and leadership roles in OHS have exposed me to a range of management techniques that are relevant to Business Improvement. In particular I am a strong supporter of continuous improvement and quality management approaches to business. I believe leadership is the often forgotten key to excellence in most aspects of life. I hold the Australian Defence Medal and am a J.P.(Qualified). I have many fond memories of my time playing Rugby Union when I was a young bloke.

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