Risk Assessment

Risk assessment is the overall effect of the potential outcome of the release of hazardous energy in a workplace. These risks can include health risk from chemical exposure, environmental factors culminating in illnesses/disease, or physical factors that can result in traumatic injuries or death.

Risk assessment, although generic by name, becomes very specific when specific risks are addressed, such as security, a specific process, an explosive situation, a toxic chemical, or an energy-producing incident.

Developing a Risk Assessment

Thus, risk assessment is often subjective even when it is completed using as much quantitative data as is available. With this in mind, it should address four key components that may or may not be quantifiable.

The steps that need to be undertaken are as follows:

First, a walkthrough of the workplace. This may result in a few identifiable hazards or a hundred. This of course varies greatly from workplace to workplace. This hazard identification and hazard ranking is the first step in a risk assessment.

Secondly this would be followed by determining the exposure level versus the actual effects of that exposure level. This allows for a determination of what the outcomes of such an exposure would be for the employee or groups of employees.

Thirdly, these degrees of potential effects guide the determination as to the real danger or perceived risk. Judgment as to risk is evaluated based on amount of risk from potential exposure, results of exposure, how likely the exposure is to end in an illness or injury, and what the magnitude of an event is from the release of errant/uncontrolled source of energy.

The previous come together to calculate a risk assessment factor that may range along the continuum from extreme risk to low (negligible) risk.

Fourth, a risk assessment is confounded by the business side of the equation, such as how much it will cost to fix or remove a risk. The other question that needs to be answered is whether this is a justifiable business decision. Is it worth the money for the amount of fixing obtained or the cost to remove the risk?

This is why the quality of the risk assessment is vital to making both human and business decisions from a position of knowledge and information.

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