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Don’t let your Risk Controls become a Hazard

risk manYou are about to do your annual risk assessment, you are armed with your trustee clip board and attached is your up to the minute, totally comprehensive risk assessment check list. Or is it?

There are four stages of risk management:
1. Identification
2. Assessment
3. Action
4. Control

But does it end there? What about the residual risk? How are you managing your controls? We are all familiar with the hierarchy of controls i.e. elimination, substitution, isolation, engineering, administration and PPE.  If the control is elimination then no sweat, job done. But how often are we able to eliminate a task or a hazard? So controls are put in place, often using more than one option from the hierarchy list to reduce the risk as much as they can. It is important to review and monitor controls for all identified risks to maintain their relevance and effectiveness. A good way of doing this is to include them in your risk assessment. You are about to do your annual risk assessment, you are armed with your trustee clip board and attached is your up to the minute, totally comprehensive risk assessment check list. Or is it? Are your previous controls on the list? The regulations of each state say that controls must be reviewed but what review processes are in place in your organisation?

For instance, let’s say last year you identified a potential hazard with ventilation in a work area because the workers were complaining about headaches and nausea. So you installed a large, new extractor in the roof and this “engineering control” was effective and the workers could breathe freely again and all was well. But is it still effective? In the last year there may have been changes to the environment which impact of the extractor’s effectiveness. It may be that there are more workers in that particular area now, has the fan been cleaned or maintained since its installation? Is it working to its full potential? If this is on your risk assessment checklist you don’t have to wait until someone starts to complain of headaches again before you identify another hazard.

It could be that the control in place could benefit from a complimentary control like administration or PPE. Besides, you may not be doing the actual risk assessment next time and if your controls are part of the next assessment they won’t be missed. So put them on the list for next year now. If we cannot eliminate the hazard at least we can reduce the risk associated with it. Basic ABCs of safety I know but the bottom line is that we cannot afford to take a risk with risks.

About the Author

Joanne Wallace is our resident "Safety Guru". Joanne has provided advice on safety management for the past 10 years and written hundreds of articles on safety issues and tips. Joanne has experience in many industries ranging from manufacturing, food processing, timber milling, retail, office and wholesaling providing her with knowledge and experience managing risk and injuries in these industries.

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