Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment – Fundamentals of Safety

A Job Safety Analysis, a Workplace Risk Assessment…whatever we call it, it is about identifying the hazards and assessing the risks so that you can implement suitable controls. These are the basics or fundamentals of safety. But what happens when work activities involve fluid activities or environments where individual workers need to make quick mental assessments and manage risks "on the fly"? This is where dynamic risk-assessment concepts come in to play.

My oldest son is a police officer and on April 22, 2010, he was awarded the Chiefs award of Excellence for Bravery, as he saved an individual's life, risking his own. For those of you who are parents, you may understand how this has troubled me somewhat. I had mixed emotions the day of the actual incident when he told me what had happened and then again at the awards ceremony. My son risked his life to save another. The community and I are proud that he did the right thing, but he risked his life. As a safety professional and as his mom, I needed to sit back and think about that.

I deliberated over the concepts of hazards and risk in my head and realized that you cannot make things 100% hazard or risk free. For every occupation, there is a line of reasonable risk as you perform the job. When the reasonable risk shifts to an unreasonable level, you simply don't do it, or is it "time to put on the big boys' pants and earn the pay"? As safety professionals we assist organizations to proactively manage predicable risk. This must be balanced with the provision of knowledge and the development of skills to adapt in a dynamic manner. I realized that, for most occupations, and especially those in the emergency services, that Dynamic Risk Assessment is a key skill that is necessary.

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