An Overview of Risk Assessment and the Importance of the Process

This paper will focus on deploying a risk assessment process to reduce risk and effectively minimize incidents. Safety professionals need to move away from purely conducting hazard identification and implementing corrective action to a format of assessing the risks associated with task completion. We have seen many organizations make the move to conduct risk assessments in some fashion. The next step is to effectively deploy these documents into an integrated process to align with the business process. The paper will include a brief case study of two organizations' success in the deploying a risk assessment process to minimize risk.

Importance of this Topic

Over the last ten plus years, we have received many opportunities to learn the risk assessment methodology. There are numerous assessment techniques. Using the techniques will depend upon the organization's goals and objectives, and the acceptance of residual risk. Safety and health professionals are being asked to step out of the compliance box and become partners in the business environment. Deploying a robust risk assessment process beyond regulatory requirements will require a strategic approach in place of the tactical efforts of the past.

What Is a Risk Assessment?

Risk assessments have been used by various disciplines for many years. The terminology is not new to the safety profession, although it may have been somewhat misused. Many safety professionals referred to the hazard identification process or to safety inspections as "risk assessments." To their credit, they were on the right track, but they did not assess as much as identify hazardous conditions or hazardous activities.

There are several definitions of the term "risk assessment" including the following:

"Risk Assessment is the overall process of risk identification, risk analysis and risk evaluation. Risks can be assessed at an organizational, at a department level for projects, individual activities or specific risks. Different tools and techniques may be appropriate in different contexts.

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