Navigating Safety: The Importance of Risk Assessment in the Workplace

by | Oct 10, 2023 | Management

I get it, most days your to do list is never ending and some things are just more important.  And this paper might be the one that always gets added back to the bottom of the pile.  Yes, I do that too sometimes 😊.  But, as described in the Occupational Health & Safety Act 85 of 1993, ensuring the safety and well-being of employees is most important in the workplace.

This is where risk assessment steps in as a crucial tool in workplace safety measures. It’s not merely a box to tick off; it’s a proactive approach that can prevent accidents, protect lives, safeguard the integrity of your business and to ensure your company’s compliant with the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).

Understanding Risk Assessment:

Risk assessment in the workplace involves the systematic identification, evaluation, and mitigation of potential hazards and risks that could harm employees, visitors, or the environment. It’s a comprehensive process that requires a thorough understanding of the workplace, its processes, and the potential dangers lurking within.

Four Types Of Risk Assessments:

#1. Baseline Risk Assessment:

This is the initial assessment of risk in a workplace. It is a broad assessment and includes all activities taking place on site. A baseline HIRA (Hazzard Identification and Risk Assessment) is done to establish a risk profile and is used to prioritize action programmes for issue-based risk assessments.

#2. Generic Risk Assessment:

This risk assessment is used where the same type of task is carried out at different workplaces in the same way (e.g. risk assessments of a number of warehouses storing similar goods). To do a generic risk assessment, perform a baseline risk assessment and then use this for similar work activities that involve comparable risks.

#3. Continuous Risk Assessment:

The continuous risk assessment is an informal risk assessment performed on an on-going basis in the workplace. It’s usually performed by a supervisor who’ll observe employees performing their tasks as part of his daily responsibility. From this observation the risk related to the specific performance of the task is assessed and the supervisor will stop the employee from continuing the task should it present too high a risk.

#4. Specialized Risk Assessments:

In the field of HIRA there are several methods available for determining specific risks associated to each individual workplace. These models each have a specific application and are used to achieve specific objectives. (e.g. hearing protection, flammable gases etc.)

A Risk Assessment Should Involve 5 Steps:

  1. Identify the hazards
  2. Decide who might be harmed and how
  3. Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions
  4. Record your significant findings
  5. Review your assessment and update if necessary

Keep in mind that different types of risk assessments can be used together. It’s not always an either-or situation. By identifying and addressing potential hazards, you’re not just complying with regulations; you’re demonstrating a commitment to the well-being of your most valuable asset: your workforce.