The concept of ‘risk’ is central to the formulation of the common law duty of care.
In particular, a common law duty holder will generally only be liable for breach of duty in relation to injuries caused by the manifestation of hazards and associated risks, which were ‘reasonably foreseeable’.
At Common Law, reasonably foreseeable risks must be guarded against or managed. Occupational Health and Safety statutes employ a similar formulation of risks that must be guarded against.
Risk management principles are incorporated into the regulations in a number of ways. Significantly, a duty is imposed on employers, main contractors, self-employed people, and people in control of workplaces to, ‘as far as practicable’:
- identify each hazard to which a person at the workplace is likely to be exposed;
- assess the risk of injury or harm to a person resulting from each hazard identified; and
- consider the means by which the risk may be reduced.
Changes occur continuously in workplaces, as:
- new employees are taken on or existing employees leave;
- new plant and substances are introduced;
- old plant and substances are disposed of;
- new work systems and processes are introduced;
- old systems and processes are no longer used;
- new legislative requirements come into force;
- new safety technology becomes available;
- incidents and or potential incidents/accidents occur; and
- industry best practice evolves.
As changes occur at the workplace, the risk management process must take account of them.
For this reason, the risk management process cannot be regarded as a ‘one-off’ investment of time and resources. Otherwise the investment is wasted. Risk management should be an ongoing, constantly improving process.
To maintain its currency and its effectiveness, the risk management process must be continuously reviewed and steps taken to redress any flaws.
- The Job Safety Analysis (JSA) – Work Method Statement (WMS) process must be based on the premise of Risk Management.
Steps in Risk Management
There are four sequential steps in undertaking the risk management process:
1. Identify workplace hazards
- this is the ongoing process of observing, inspecting and examining all aspects of the work and its environment to determine the hazards that are present.
2. Assess the associated risks
- this involves evaluating the likelihood and potential severity of risks associated with each hazard identified.
3. Control the risks
- this is the process of determining and implementing measures to control the risks.
4. Monitor and review
- the entire risk management process to ensure that it is working effectively and that new hazards and circumstances are accounted for.
To be effective each of the steps above must be carried out in sequence and with the necessary allocation of time, personnel and resources.
Contact Neil to discuss your Risk Management requirements.