We’ve talked about a Safety Plan as a critical foundation to ensuring business survival.  Many businesses round out the culture of Safety by including product and service reliability and quality – or as one client’s work shirts say, “No Excuses.”

The previous Tip (#87, Communicating Safety) discussed the best techniques for identifying safety hazards.  Here we’ll address what to do once you’ve identified or discovered a dangerous work site, piece of equipment or job requirement.

Of course where immediate dangers to people or property exist, you need to take preventative action quickly by removing people and protecting property from injury or loss. When the danger is not immediate, evaluating the potential severity, likelihood, frequency and cost is often a wise first step.  A risk register type of analysis can be useful in prioritizing the best place to start.

Risk register

This can be a simple chart where:

The likelihood that an injury or loss will occur is identified – from “Certain” to “Rare” – and compared to the severity and frequency of a hypothetical accident that does occur.  Both the costs of the damages and the cost to correct the problem can then be added to the chart or matrix.

Here’s a simple example showing how this can help decision-making.

Description of Risk Likelihood Consequence / Frequency Responsible Person Cost of Loss Cost to Mitigate
Safety of staff and people engaged in the project Moderate Very High / Low General Manager, Superintendent $10 m $10,000

Safety hazards can be corrected, in order of preference, by engineering controls (machine guarding, improved equipment), administrative measures (ensuring training and expertise, limiting exposure time), and personal protective equipment.

What’s next?

The risk register is used for all business risks, not just safety, and it can be an effective learning tool in Accident Investigations – the next step in your Safety Plan.

  • First replace Accident Investigations with Incident Analysis – you’re not looking for blame, but for things to correct.
  • Then find ways to have every worker report any near-misses, workplace hazards or concerns – permitting anonymous reports is fine.  Any hazard should be reported.
  • Analyze the issue and report back to all employees.  It’s okay to do nothing if the there’s no real priority on the risk register – the analysis should be open to all for future updates.

What’s your experience with finding and correcting hazards?  How about getting lots of reports and analyzing what can be improved?  Add a comment below.

Do you need a Hazards checklist or a sample IIPP?  Call or email Charles to talk about your unique concerns or questions. (510-685-3883 | charles@risksmartsolutions.com).