What is a Risk Assessment and What is it that’s “Assessed”?

Risk Assessment – The risk of What?

What is a risk assessment?
This may seem pathetically obvious, but a risk assessment is simply assessing the risk of something happening or not happening.

Risk is a combination of the likelihood of something occurring and the consequences if it does.
A risk assessment is a simple quantifying of that likelihood and consequence.
However, what’s NOT always so obvious is the risk of – WHAT!

In a new business venture, the risk of a new product launch may be assessed. Failing to meet the cost of development and production may be the object of the assessment.

A medical doctor may assess the risk of a patient experiences undesired consequences if prescribing a particular medication.

A general may assess the risk of injuries or death to his soldiers in a planned offensive against an enemy.

In all these cases, there’s an assessment of the risk of something happening.

To complete a risk assessment, it’s critical first to define the thing that there’s a risk of!
Defining the object of the assessment is such a simple and obvious truth. However, in the arena of OHS. HSE, EHS, WHS (health and safety in the workplace) it’s so often overlooked.

As business owners, we know we must do risk assessments.
Most countries require it by law. Yet, we often fail to define what it is there’s a risk OF! What are we actually assessing?

We think that operation a machine or carrying out a job is the object of the assessment. However, this is only partially true.

We SHOULD be assessing is the risk of a hazard occurring while operating the machine or carrying out the job.

How to Risk Assess “Digging A Hole”

How do you assess the risk of digging a hole?
The first step in assessing the risk is to identify any potential hazards associated with the hole digging.

No hazards? No risk assessment!

Now to do a risk assessment on “Digging a hole” you’d need to first be aware of the following;

  • where the hole digging is taking place
  • the circumstances that accompany the action.
  • the person doing the digging

If digging the hole is happening where there are high voltage underground cables in the vicinity the hazards are obvious. There’s a hazard of death by electrocution if a cable is struck.

What If digging the hole is taking place in the middle of a busy road? There’s a potential hazard of injury to the digger from a collision with a motor vehicle. Or, there could be a hazard of injury to a pedestrian from falling in the hole.

However, if the hole is being dug at the beach by a daddy and small child? They are using a plastic bucket and spade. In this case, there are no real hazards.

Now, our OCD chums out there will undoubtedly find hazards in digging a hole at the beach. To those dear people I’d say please don’t email me with your list of potential hazards.
Let’s keep within the realms of reality.

Remember, you don’t want your workers, the people you’re trying to protect, to make your health and safety a joke.

Risk Assessment is viewed as a tedious, resource sapping

In many businesses writing a Risk Assessment is relegated to the too hard basket. It’s often considered to be a tedious, resource sapping exercise.

However, there IS a way that you can streamline the process using the Simple WorkSafe application.

To see what other tools are available to streamline your health and safety management go to our software shop here.