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Risk Management in Work Health and Safety

In a recent article on  Quality Management for Work Health and Safety, we talked about the wisdom of founding a WHS Management System on both WHS standards (eg. AS/NZS 4801) and Quality Management standards (eg. ISO 9001).  Risk Assessment starts in the PLANning stage of a PDCA continual improvement cycle, and Risk Management should be pervasive almost everyday in the DO or Operations of a business.

This is equivalent to Preventative Action in IS 9001 terminology, and whilst it may be a significant control facor for product / service quality in the context of Quality Management, in a WHS management system it could be a critical factor in avoiding serious injury or death. Invoking Incident Management after an emergency sytuation is far too late.

What is Risk Management?

Risk Management is a logical, step-by-step process of identifying hazards, assessing the risk associated with those hazards, eliminating or controlling those risks, as far as practicable, and
monitoring and reviewing risk assessments and control measures. The objective of this process is to improve workplace health and safety by addressing problems before injuries and
incidents occur.  It is a logical 4 step process:

Step 1 - Identify Hazard
Step 2 – Assess Hazard
Step 3 – Control or Eliminate the hazard
Step 4 – Monitor or review the control methodology

All hazards, associated risks and other issues should be recorded in a purpose built Problem Management tool, in a similar fashion to the recording of Incidents and emergency events.  It is not sufficient to perform a "one-off" action to eliminate or control the issues. The business must build a historical knowledgebase of all hazards, risks and safety issues, whether major or minor, eliminated or controlled.

There's far mor to the whole Risk Management process than can be covered here, and Community members can read the full document on Work Health and Safety - Risk Management in our WHS Management System catalogue.


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