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What is - Risk Management:?

Risk Management is the process used to analyze a situation and then work towards minimizing harm towards people or property. Although this set of Policies are about Health & Safety, the Risk Management process can be applied to analyzing the downside of any situation – not only Health & Safety.

In its broad sense, the word “Risk” is the chance that loss or damage from some event will happen. It combines the concept of likelihood and the consequence of the event. For example, the likelihood of an earthquake happening in Moorabbin is unlikely, but if it did happen it could have serious local consequences for MelbPC.

In the area of Health & Safety, in MelbPC, the risk of injury from using e.g. a welding torch is high if the operator is untrained, there could be also a high risk of fire damage. This risk could be managed by not permitting untrained people to use a welding torch unsupervised and ensuring they wear appropriate Personal Protection Equipment.

If a risk is considered serious, then it needs to be managed with the aim of minimising either the likelihood or the consequence of an event happening. Some risks can be managed using practical measures. For example, the risk of burglary can be managed by locking up portable power tools and other valuables in a tool cage and having a back to base alarm fitted.

It may be difficult to manage the likelihood of a fire happening in our Workshop but the consequence can be managed by Emergency Procedures with Insurance being another management response.

The risk assessment at MelbPC would consider many kind of events that could happen and threaten the operation of the Workshop, its financial status or the health & safety of people including members, contractors, mentored children / adolescents, and other visitors.

The management aspect deals with actions needed to reduce risk to an acceptable level. Actions also need to be managed by assigning tasks and resources to fix problem areas.

Our various locations may need to regularly assess the risk and ensure action plans are implemented and working properly to reduce risk. If you need help, contact melbpc by email at [email protected]


STEP 1 - Spot the Risk

The first step is to walk around the areas and find the obvious things that could put the health or safety of anyone in your workplace in danger.

A Risk is anything that has the potential to cause injury, illness or damage to your own or someone else’s health.

Some of the risks you will be able to fix straight away by picking up a lead that may cause someone to trip, cleaning up a spill on the floor or moving a frequently used item onto a lower shelf. There are a number of other ways to find risks in your workplace, including: Look at the tasks Look at each task members do. Look for any risks associated with these tasks

Talk to the members The people who do the job regularly are the best people to tell you about any risks associated with their work. Ask members which tasks cause problems or make them concerned. Members may also have had reports from members about particular tasks they’ve had problems with, but not passed on.

Use safety checklists Safety checklists are a good way to help you identify some of the common risks that can be found in workplaces like yours. Please note that these checklists are generic and should be adapted to suit your own workplace.

Review manufacturers’ information Review the information available from designers or manufacturers, including material safety data sheets (MSDS) and product labels. Examples of MSDS forms are in the Appendices.

Check injury records and incident reports By looking at your injury records, you’ll be able to get a good idea of what’s causing your members’ injuries. You should also check your register of health and safety problems and records of near-misses.

A more systematic approach is as follows:-

  • Use a risk assessment sheet shown at Appendix Page 59. Under the ‘Spot the risk’ column, write down the name of the task you’re reviewing in the ‘Identify the work task or activity’ column. You may even want to break down each of these work tasks into the steps involved in it, from start to end. If you decide to do this, identify all the steps involved by asking “What happens first?” and then “What do you do next?”.
  • In the “What are the risks associated with each activity” column, write down all the risks you can find. The Risk Analysis Thinking Prompts in the Appendices can help.

STEP 2 - Assess the Risk

When the risks are identified, the level of risk needs to be established. We need to identify the likelihood of a risk causing injury, illness or damage to your health. The list of risks may be surprisingly long, with some posing more safety risks than others. It is necessary to work out which risks are more serious than others, so that they can be dealt with first.

To assess the risk associated with each risk, ask these questions:

What is the potential impact of the risk?

  • How severe could an injury or illness be?
  • What is the worst possible damage the risk could cause to someone’s health?
  • Would it require simple first aid only? Or cause permanent ill health or disability? Or could it kill?

How likely is the risk to cause someone harm?

  • Could it happen at any time or would it be a rare event?
  • How frequently are workers exposed to the risk?

Answering these questions will help you assess the risk level of the risk: whether it is a low risk, moderate risk, significant risk or high risk. The table below can help with this process.

Identify the Potential impact of Risk

Insignificant No injuries, low financial loss

Minor Simple First aid treatment, medium financial loss.
Moderate Significant First aid treatment, high financial loss.
Major Extensive injuries, loss of production capability, major financial loss
Catastrophic Death, huge financial loss.

Assess the Likelihood that the Risk would cause an accident

Almost certain The event is expected to occur in most circumstances
Likely The event will probably occur in most circumstances
Moderate The event should occur at some time
Unlikely The event could occur at some time
Rare The event may occur only in exceptional circumstances

Action required to eliminate the Risk

High High Risk - act immediately to take steps to Fix the Problem
Significant Significant risk - act immediately to take steps to Fix the Problem
Moderate Moderate risk - act as soon as practicable
Low Low risk - manage by routine procedures and reassess within designated timeframe

STEP 3 - Fix the Problem

When the risks are spotted and their risk assessed, ways need to be developed to fix them. This is known as risk control , and is the third step.

You should always aim to remove a risk completely from your workplace. Where this isn’t practical, you should work through the other alternatives systematically. Working through risks in this way is known as the hierarchy of control. Sometimes more than one control measure should be used to reduce the exposure to risks. Control Measures

1. Eliminate the risk. For example, repair damaged equipment; use a lifting machine to do the lifting in the workplace; stop using a dangerous chemical.

If this is not practical, then:

2. Substitute the risk with a safer alternative. For example, break larger loads down into smaller, lighter loads; use a less toxic chemical.

If this is not practical, then:

3. Isolate the risk. For example, install barriers to restrict access to risky work areas or machines; use chemicals in a safe dedicated work area.

The size of a workplace is a major consideration for MelbPC’s safe work environment, but its difficult to set hard and fast rules. The overriding concern is for a safe workplace. A typical Government workspace is at least 1.8 sq mtrs, however, to allow for general movement, there must be a minimum of 2.3 sq mtrs of additional / unused space for each person working in the area. The spare space can include meeting rooms etc.

For MelbPC it’s important for safety reasons not to squeeze too much into a space so as to comply with safe work regulations. The foregoing measures may be regarded as minimums but common sense regarding the Workshop/Area’s activity need to also be a prime factor when arranging the space needs and safe layout for each Area.

Another good idea inside the work area in the case of the Workshop is to paint yellow lines on the floor to mark out where things may or not be stored and where people may or not walk.

If this is not practical, then:

4. Use engineering controls. For example, place guards on dangerous parts of machinery; use a trolley to move heavy loads; explore use of localized extraction systems.

If this is not practical, then:

5. Use administrative controls. For example: have clear safety notices on machines; change work practices and organization; rotate jobs to reduce the time spent on any single task; train members in safe work procedures; carry out routine maintenance of equipment.

If this is not practical, then:

6. Use personal protective equipment (PPE). For example, provide workers with protective equipment such as gloves, masks or ear muffs and train them to use PPE correctly.

Finding safety solutions

  • There are many ways to find safety solutions.
  • At regular toolbox meetings, ask members for their ideas. They may already see safer ways to do things.
  • Look at the information available from designers or manufacturers, including material safety data sheets (MSDS) and product labels.
  • Talk to other SIGs and Groups. Get help from any associations or groups involved in similar functions. They may have seen the problem before and know how to fix it.
  • Consult a professional OHS specialist

STEP 4 - Evaluate Results

Risk management is not a one-off event - it is an ongoing process. Once you’ve identified the risks, assessed their risk and fixed them, you need to follow up with the fourth step of the risk management process ‘Evaluate results’.

Evaluation is an important step in the risk management process. After you think that you’ve fixed the problem, find out whether the changes have been effective. It is useful to think through the steps again to ensure no new risks have arisen. Talk to your members. Ask these questions:

  • Are the changes making a difference?
  • What do your members think?
  • Will the solutions reduce risks and prevent injury or illness ?
  • Do they create new risks or increase the risk of existing ones?
  • Any ways to make further improvement?

Set a date to re-evaluate the task, choosing a timeframe appropriate to the task and the risk involved. This could be anywhere between a week and three years.

wiki/risk_management.txt · Last modified: 2018/11/01 17:08 by stephen