Step Up Your Safety Game: 5 Key Risk Management Practices
Workplace Health and Safety requires an integration of reactive, proactive, and predictive processes to ensure continuous improvement. Typically, a holistic approach to safety management includes six major components:
- Well-documented and well-designed safety policy
- Proactively identifying safety risks and planning control measures
- Agile handling of safety incidents
- Safety assurance – which gives employees and workers the confidence that there’s a safety culture across the company with proper training, awareness, SOP management, etc.
- Safety promotion – bringing in total employee involvement and collaboration, so safety doesn’t become the responsibility of the safety team alone
- A well-designed end-to-end SMS that is reactive, preventive and proactive
While the policy aspect provides direction for the organization’s safety management processes, risk management becomes key for proactively addressing potential safety hazards and minimizing incidents that impact employees, the workplace, or the environment. A robust risk management system must include the following steps:
- Process to identify potential risks through inspections, audits, near-miss reporting, safety observations, data analysis from past event data, etc.
- Data-driven approach to assess frequency and impact of various risks
- Risk control measures
- Continuous improvement through feedback loops
ISO 45001, the standard on which most safety management regulations are based, requires a risk-based approach to protect stakeholders from the uncertainties of the modern economy. A risk-based approach encourages implementing a systematic approach to identifying, managing, and controlling risks. It enables businesses to understand critical issues that need to be addressed on priority. It also helps businesses to respond to the ever-changing business, regulatory, and safety environments – doing whatever it takes to make the workplace safe.
Effective and Efficient Risk Management: 5 Steps
OSHA recommends a 5-step process to proactively reduce safety risks and prevent the number of injuries or illnesses. These include:
Step 1: Proactively Identify Risks & Hazards and Plan Control Options
The first step is to identify the hazards. Next is to weigh the impact against preset parameters, and rank them as high, medium, and low. This will help to create a focused strategy where high-risk hazards can be addressed effectively by determining the controls and implementing them based on feasibility and effectiveness. For this, total employee involvement is key.
Additionally, it is critical to design robust safety audits and inspection processes to identify risks. Data from incidents, safety observations and near-misses will also be extremely useful.
Step 2: Rank Controls
Once the control measures have been identified, they must be ranked from most effective to least effective based on the expected impact. Some of the control measures would include:
- Physically removing the hazard
- Replace it
- Ensure the safety of the personnel with risk management and proper awareness
- Implement administrative controls to implement safe behavior
- Provide employees with appropriate personal protective equipment
It is important to analyze whether the control will cause new hazards to be introduced in the process. Therefore, trying a pilot before implementing it on a larger scale is important.
Step 3: Create and Update the Hazard Control Plan
A hazard control plan is essential to make risk management effective. It will help delineate the process by which the identified controls will be implemented. The process should be as follows:
- It should first address high-risk hazards
- Interim controls may need to be implemented to mitigate the risks in the short term
- A long-term plan should be implemented in parallel for ensuring the effectiveness
- Metrics and key performance indicators should be elucidated and plans to track the progress clearly explained to ensure the plan helps achieve the goals
- A core team responsible for the implementation should be established with a team leader who will take ownership
- Reviews should be an integral part of the plan for assessing the impact and taking corrective actions in case it is not
Step 4: Make Nonroutine Operations and Emergencies Safe with Job Safety Analysis
While implementing controls for routine tasks may be easy and straightforward, nonroutine operations or potential emergencies may be missed out when planning the risk mitigation activity. But these too need controls and a plan for safe handling. Such emergencies could range from unplanned equipment shutdowns to fires, explosions, chemical leaks and spills, calamities, and violence.
Nonroutine tasks are tasks that may be performed occasionally and therefore forgotten when safety hazards are being assessed. Therefore, such nonroutine tasks require a job safety analysis prior to commencement. The JSA must be performed with the workers who will be undertaking the task, the nature of work, and the work site assessed for hazards, precautions, and controls put in place, and the other stakeholders notified. Permit to work must be issued to ensure that only the authorized personnel undertake such tasks with proper training, tools, and PPE, as required.
At ComplianceQuest, we published a blog titled ‘7 Benefits of a Robust Job Safety Analysis (JSA) Process to Improve Safety Performance’. Read it here: https://www.compliancequest.com/blog/7-benefits-of-robust-jsa-process/
Step 5: Implementation and Execution of Control Measures
Once the risk mitigation plan has been finalized, it must be implemented in accordance with the plan. While priority must be given to high-risk hazards, simple and easy controls such as housekeeping and cleaning the worksite to prevent tripping and falling can also be carried out in parallel. Review periodically to ensure that the controls are effective and there is continuous improvement to ensure workplace safety.
Automate Safety Risk Management Lifecycle with CQ EHS
Manual identification and management of risks can be a challenge as businesses expand operations. A hazard that is ranked low today may become a high risk as the business scales up, or new risks may get added. Safety leaders can find it quite challenging to keep track of and map the risk rating of hazards on a continuous basis. They also need visibility into operations to access data that can provide insights and improve safety-related decision-making.
A cloud-based safety management solution with an integrated risk management solution (such as ComplianceQuest EHS) can help safety leaders maintain a centralized risk register. This helps to identify trends and assess the risk rating of each hazard to prioritize risk management, identify controls, and create and implement an effective safety management system.
The CQ EHS also facilitates monitoring and tracking the performance of the controls to ensure they are on track. The CQ Risk Management Software offers unique AI and analytics capabilities to spot potential risks based on history and trending data along with key metrics. With embedded intelligence, safety and risk management leaders can proactively start their risk mitigation efforts before it becomes a major challenge.
To know more about how your organization can make risk management in safety effective, visit: https://www.compliancequest.com/lp/risk-management-solution/