# Risk Assessment: An introduction

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2 Likelihood is described using the table below Rating Rare Unlikely Possible Likely Almost certain Table 2. Likelihood Criteria May only occur in exceptional circumstances The risk event could occur at some time(during a specified period), but it is unlikely Might happen at some time; occurrence would not be unusual Will probably occur in most circumstances Is expected to occur in most circumstances Next, look at likelihood (Table 2). This is quite simply the predicted likelihood of the risk event occurring. This must be determined by using the criteria listed in the table. For example, you may be looking at the risk of muscular skeletal injury whilst loading the car. You determine that it is Possible that an injury may occur (remember that this is without any controls in place). Once you have determined both the consequence and the likelihood you combine them using the risk matrix (Table 3.) to determine the risk rating. For example: if you have determined that the consequence of a musculo skeletal injury is Moderate and the likelihood of this injury occurring is Possible and the resulting risk rating is Medium. Use the risk matrix to determine the risk rating Consequence Insignificant Minor Moderate Major Catastrophic Almost certain Medium High High Extreme Extreme Likely Medium Medium High High Extreme Likelihood Possible Low Medium Medium High Extreme Unlikely Low Low Medium Medium High Rare Low Low Low Medium High Table 3. Risk matrix It is important to note here, that an event does not have to result in a major injury or illness to be considered a high priority. A small incident happening frequently, therefore affecting more people can often be considered a high priority. It is paramount that the likelihood and consequence tables are used and combined using the risk matrix provided to determine the level of risk. This lessens the chance of people using their own biases when interpreting risk. This also standardises the way we look at and interpret risk. [HSW RA ] Page 2 of 6

3 4. Decide on control measures Now that the risk rating has been determined we can then ascertain what sort of action we need and its priority. Obviously something with a higher risk rating is of greater priority. This doesn t mean that you do not action the lower risk ratings, as sometimes these are quick and easy to action and are good to show progress (get some small wins on the board). This naturally leads you into what things/strategies you are going to use to eliminate or reduce the risk. When deciding how to reduce risk it is important that you do so in accordance with the Hierarchy of Control. This stipulates the best methods for controlling risks: The following diagram depicts the Hierarchy of Control Hierarchy of Control 1. Eliminate 2. Substitute Good housekeeping practices remove hazards. Consider the layout or design of the event. Remove hazards from the workplace. Replace a process or material with a less hazardous option. 3. Engineer Redesign the work process or equipment. 4. Isolate Separate the hazard from the worker 5. Administer Implement policies, procedures and training for people to follow when working with a hazard. 6. Use Personal Protective Equipment Provide people with equipment and training (eg high visibility vest, safety glasses, gloves or footwear). Until better methods of appropriate controls are available. Obviously, eliminating the hazard is the best and most effective way of controlling it. This may entail simply not doing the activity. Substitution refers to substituting something that you have deemed to be a risk with something that is a lower risk that achieves the same or similar thing. The best example of this would be substituting a hazardous substance with a less hazardous substance. Engineer. This requires redesign of the workplace to make it safer. Examples might be; non-slip flooring/paving to prevent slips, trips and falls; the provision of storage facilities to ensure safe and effective storage of items; introduction of mechanical lifting aids/ devices; the purchase of low noise tools and machinery. Sometimes it is easiest to isolate the worker from the hazard. This is best seen in working with machinery where protective partitions and guards are put in place to prevent contact with hazardous moving parts. We often see administrative controls in the workplace. These consist of policies, procedures, guidelines, training and the like. These are necessary practices that attempt to guide people into working safely. But they are not as effective as the above mentioned controls. The above controls, especially the first two are designed to remove the hazard, therefore eliminate the risk. With administrative controls, the hazard still exists and we are relying on guiding human behavior to reduce the level of risk. This is obviously not completely reliable. Teaching people to drive safely does not prevent road hazards and hence road accidents. The least effective control measure is PPE or personal protective equipment, such as; gloves, plastic gowns or aprons, safety glasses, boots etc. This relies on the PPE being available, in good working order, being used appropriately or just being used at all. Again this does not eliminate the hazards or risks, so should not be used as the only control but in conjunction with other controls. The best way to control any hazard/risk is to eliminate it, but this is not always feasible. The most effective way to control or lessen the risks associated with the hazards we have identified is to use a combination of the above controls. For example: Have policies, procedures and guidelines, that assign responsibility and guide people as to the expectation of working safely. Provide training and supervision; to ensure policies etc. are communicated and to ensure competency. Consider health safety and wellbeing in the design and purchasing stage. Provide appropriate PPE. [HSW RA ] Page 3 of 6

5 Risk Assessment: example the beginning of a risk assessment Title: Activity/Task/Process being assessed: Field work, to Stradbroke Island: studying cohabitation of spiders in orb weaver webs. Background: (brief description of task/activity) Two students taking ferry to Stradbroke Island, camping at Miora Springs and observing orb weaver webs between Miora Springs and Cylinder Beach. Mode of transportation: bicycle. The bikes will be loading onto a car bicycle carrier and then transported to Ferry. The risk assessment will cover the time on the Island only. Risk assessment completed by: (list names of all involved in completion of risk assessment) Date completed: Date of task/activity: Authorised by: Level of risk Residual risk Hazard type Hazard description Controls Responsible person Date implemented by Consequence Likelihood Risk rating Consequence Likelihood Risk rating Cycling from ferry arrival point to Miora springs Vehicle/bike accident Major Possible High Preventative maintenance on bikes Bikes loaded to ensure appropriate balance. Trial ride with loaded bikes prior to commencing ride. Experienced riders Bike Helmets and high visibility gear worn while riding Riding only permitted in daylight hours Major Unlikely Medium Sun burn Moderate Likely High 30+ sunscreen Sun smart clothing Majority of riding planned for low risk times of day Insignificant Unlikely Low Dehydration Rides of greater than 30 minutes planned for low risk time of days Education re hydration requirements Water easily accessible on bike Muscle strain Experienced riders Camp set up Muscular skeletal injuries Provision of light weight equipment Manual handling training Bites, stings, envenomation Provision of insect repellent First aid kit First aid training Emergency plan in place Communication plan in place [HSW RA ] Page 1 of 2 [HSW RA ] Page 5 of 6

6 Risk Assessment: example the beginning of a risk assessment Level of risk Residual risk Hazard type Hazard description Controls Responsible person Date implemented by Consequence Likelihood Risk rating Consequence Likelihood Risk rating Hit by falling objects Set up suitable distance from tall trees Sunburn Work in field Bites, stings, envenomation Closed in shoes, long trousers with boot protector/sock savers Insect repellent etc Sun burn Dehydration adequate water taken to each site Getting lost hand held GPS provided emergency plan in field communication plan Physical injury First aid kit First aid trained Emergency plan Communication plan Experienced bush walkers Animal contact (wild dogs/pigs) Liaise with local authorities re occurrences and locations plan accordingly Communication plan Muscular skeletal injury Please sign below indicating that you have read and understand this risk assessment (all who are to work in accordance with this risk assessment should have read and understood it). Name Signature Date [HSW RA ] Page 2 of 2 [HSW RA ] Page 6 of 6

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