“Any establishment and its branches shall carry out an evaluation and analysis of the risks and of the expected industrial and natural disasters, and prepare an emergency plan for protection of the establishment and its workers in the event of an occurring disaster, providing the effectiveness of this plan shall be tested and etc” (Egyptian Labors Law # 12/2003 5th book, Article # 215)
The above article is tackling one of the most important techniques in the HSE Management, which is the Risk Assessment (RA); the process of evaluating the risks to workers, safety and health from workplace hazards. It is a systematic examination of all aspects of work that consider:
- What could cause injury or harm?
- Whether or not the hazard could be eliminated?
- What preventative or protective measures are, or should be, in place to control the risk impact?
But, before going through the techniques of managing risks at workplace, we have to differentiate between hazard and risk definition, where a hazard is anything that may cause harm, such as chemicals, electricity, working from ladders, an open drawer… etc, while a risk is the probability (high or low) that somebody could be harmed by these hazards.
How to assess the risks?
The guiding principle that should be considered throughout the risk assessment process can be divided into a series of steps, summarized as follows: –
Step 1: Identifying hazards and those at risk, looking for those things at work that have the potential to cause harm, and identifying workers who may be exposed to the hazards.
Step2: Evaluating risks, estimating the existing risks (their severity, probability, etc.) and prioritizing them in order to be done to eliminate or prevent risks are prioritized.
Step3: deciding on preventive action, identifying the appropriate measure to eliminate or control the risks.
Step4: taking action, putting in place the preventive and protective measures through a prioritization plan, and specifying who does what and when, when a task is to be completed and the means allocated to implement the measure
Step5: Monitoring and reviewing, the assessment should be reviewed at regular intervals to ensure it remains up to date. It has to be revised whenever significant changes occur in the organization or as a result of the findings of an accident or near miss investigation.
Roles and responsibilities of RA implementation
A) The employer has the duty to:
- Ensure the safety and health of workers in every aspect related to work
- Organize the risk assessment
- Select the persons to carry out the assessment and ensure that they are competent
- Assess the risks and implement protective measures
- Consult the employees or their representatives about the findings of the risk assessment, and the persons carrying out the assessment and implementing the preventive measure
- Be in possession of an assessment of the risk
- Draw up assessment records having consulted with the workers and /or their representative, or even involved them in the work, and make the records available to them
- Ensure all persons affected are informed of any hazard, of any harm to which they may be at risk and of all the protective measures taken to prevent such harm
B) Workers / employees have the responsibility to
- Be consulted on arrangements for the steps of the risk assessment
- Participate in the RA process
- Report changes in the workplace
- Be informed of the risks of their safety and health and of the measures required to eliminate or reduce these risks
- Cooperate to enable the employer to ensure a safe working environment
- Strictly follow employers internal instructions / regulation in using and implementing control measures (i.e. usage of PPE)
Take into consideration that RA should not be carried out by the employer or the employers’ representative working in isolation, they should involve employees in the whole process it is a part of the assessment process to manage information taken from employees or even any conclusion reached.
The following table is a simple example of the RA process matrix, it may vary according to the complexity of the process within the establishment, but it has the same generic basics.
Death / permanent disability
Over 3 day injury
Degree of risk = Severity X Likelihood
By Adel Younis
QHSE Executive Manager, Corex Ltd.