Risk assessment at previous conferences has previously been addressed primarily focusing on the framework and philosophical approach rather than specific applications. As the risk assessment topic becomes more familiar to the safety community, interest turns to practical applications of the method. Although understanding the context of risk assessment is important to its successful deployment, most practitioners attending are dealing with the everyday problems and not expending effort toward the design phase for new facilities, equipment, processes, and products. Practitioners are concerned with coping with changes necessary to make existing operations safe for employees. With that in mind, this session focuses on the practical aspects of risk assessment, its value and utilization in bringing cost effective solutions to everyday problems.

This presentation provides both the general context and specific details of conducting a risk assessment, and illustrate applications of risk assessments in solving problems in day-to-day operations. This session is applicable to manufacturing and service organizations. It will include specific examples of the process applied to single pieces of equipment and will also include operations involving multiple units.

The methodology of the risk assessment will be explored, including the various systems available for practitioner use on day to day problems. They will present details of many analyses made including the cost effectiveness, cost reductions effected, and other benefits resulting from these studies. This paper addresses the first portion of the topic - the basics of risk assessment.

The Basics of Risk Assessment

Risk assessments are quickly becoming fundamental tools in the safety community. They help make and implement decisions regarding safety, simultaneously preventing accidents, improving safety performance, and reducing a manufacturer's liability exposure by systematically identifying and evaluating hazards concerning the design, its uses, and potential "failures." Risk assessments should advance retrofit changes and design efforts rather than solely reviewing and checking past decisions. Particular focus should be given to areas in which the designer has not been able to concentrate, and where safety problems are often overlooked (see Main 2002 for more details of risk assessment and design reviews).

Getting started in risk assessments requires some basic training (see Christensen and Manuele, 1999 for more details). Although the basic procedures are quickly learned, some of the nuances can be more difficult to grasp initially. Once an organization has decided to use risk assessments to evaluate a retrofit design situation, the first step is to determine which risk assessment method to use. There are several techniques available, some of which are discussed herein. Several will be shown in the presentation. For more details refer to Risk Assessment Benchmarks 2000: Getting started, making progress (Main, 2000), ANSI B11 TR3 and other resources listed in the References.

Many risk assessment methods can be conducted using basic office programs such as Excel or Access. However, there is no small effort required in setting up the analysis and formatting the results. Special software is available to guide users through the risk assessment process.

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