Day-to-day safety management regularly requires processes such as the development and review of Task Analyses TA, Job Hazard Analyses JHAs, JSAs, JSEAs, Work Procedures and Work Method Statements (WMS), Pre-Work Risk Assessments, such as TAKE 5s, and, unfortunately, regular Incident Investigations. This paper describes how decision-making is always involved in these processes and therefore they require reliable consistent qualitative or quantitative risk assessments.

The results of many, if not most, risk estimations particularly those using the ubiquitous semi-quantitative L*C matrix methods cannot always be relied upon with much confidence because of wide variations in individual assessments. The variations are usually due to confusion in the best ways of conducting the risk assessments. When, by whom, and how to perform risk assessments effectively can be clearly defined and standardized. As a result, the assessments can be appropriately rigorous and hence produce more confident, accurate and reliable risk estimates that are needed for decision-making.

No procedure can ever be written to foresee all possible job circumstances perfectly! Often there are circumstances where a procedure may need to be varied or a work-around has to be developed. Following a procedure exactly may actually involve higher risk than using a necessary work-around but only after a formal risk assessment of the work-around variation has been assessed with the supervisor. Finding a necessary work-around or shortcut is "smart." Taking a work-around / shortcut without a risk assessment with the supervisor is the "dumb" part. The usefulness of the L*C matrix during different levels of risk assessment is explained. The day-today safety challenge is to embed the culture of work that variations, changes to work methods can only be made after joint risk assessments.

Numerous decisions need to be made before, during and after an Incident Investigation. The paper describes how effective risk assessments – formal and informal – are needed in all the decision-making processes. One of the author's investigations of a real work fatality is used to illustrate examples of this aspect of uses of risk assessment in safety.

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