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What is the Process of Risk Assessment? 5 Unique Points

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You may have noticed that site engineers are sometimes puzzled with the Risk Assessment Process and filling 16 to 18 page Risk Assessment form is not an easy task either. But do you know what is the process of Risk Assessment and why it is so important?

if not, please read this interesting blog for details.

What is Risk Assessment (Definition)?

Risk assessment is a process, where we carry out the following activities:

  • Identify the hazards that may have the potential to cause harm.
  • Analyse the severity of risk against the hazards, also called risk analysis.
  • Identify solutions to mitigate or eliminate the hazards to control or regulate the risk.

In Construction Projects, it is very important to assess the risk before carrying out any site activity. Construction activities are supposed to comply with Health and Safety Regulation of their respective countries. These regulations are made to reduce the accidents and aiming to make every construction project “a vision zero accident” project.

Why Risk Assessment is so important?

Occupation health and safety plans are the key documents for every organisation especially those who are involved in construction activities. It is mandatory for all site personnel to attend and qualify the risk assessment training before working on any construction project.

It helps the organisation and the staff in the following ways:

  • It generates awareness of the hazards of various types and their associated risks.
  • It defines who would be prone to those risks like site staff or site invitees or members of the public.
  • It then elaborates the mechanism to control the risk against those hazards.
  • It helps design engineer to mitigate or eliminate the hazard at the design stage.
  • It helps site staff to filter out the hazards on site through construction sequencing and various other controlled procedures.
  • It helps the organisation and staff to comply with legal requirements.

What is the goal of Risk Assessment?

The main goal of the Risk Assessment is to assess the hazards, then assess the inherent risk that the hazard may create. If the potential risk is above moderate level, then identify value engineering solutions to mitigate the risk to a lower level or eliminate the risk completely and create a safer site or workplace.

Here are some key steps to determine the risk:

  • What is a hazard?
  • What is the level risk associated with the hazard and occurrence?
  • Can this risk be mitigated or eliminated by other means or ways?
  • If not, how this risk can be controlled?
  • If, yes, what would be revised risk level?

At what stage Risk Assessment needs to be carried out?

Risk Assessment is a very methodical process and so it’s very important to carry it out at the following stages and record the assessment:

  1. Before commencing any new process or activity.
  2. Before making changes or amendment to a going activity.
  3. At any stage of activity when a hazard is identified.

How to do Risk Assessment? / What is the process of Risk Assessment?

It is recommended that a professionally qualified person (in the Risk Assessment) should carry out the Risk Assessment process.

Following are the stages of Risk Assessment (also known as Risk Assessment Matrix):

  1. Recognise the hazards
  2. Identify who could be impacted or harmed by the hazard
  3. Examine the Risk and propose a solution to mitigate or eliminate the Risk
  4. Maintain a Risk and Hazard Register
  5. Lesson Learnt and Healthy Start Meeting

Step 1: Recognise the hazards/ Hazard Identification

There is a delicate difference between “Risk” and “Hazard”. A hazard means an object that could have the potential to cause harm, whereas Risk is the possibility of that hazard to happen.  The possibility could be from a very likely scenario to a very unlikely scenario.

Step 2: Identify who could be impacted or harmed by the hazard

Once we recognise the hazard and its likelihood, it’s the time to identify who could be directly impacted or harmed by that hazard. It could be site staff or site visitors or member of the public.

Step 3: Examine the Risk and propose a solution to mitigate or eliminate the Risk

After completing the above two steps, now it’s time to explore some value engineering solution to mitigate or eliminate the risk. By applying mitigation measures, the likelihood of the risk is reduced to an acceptable limit. By eliminating the risk with value engineering solutions, the likelihood is reduced to zero level means no risk at all, which is a best-case scenario.

Step 4: Maintain a Risk and Hazard Register

For any project whether onsite or inhouse, it is very important to maintain a risk and hazard register. All the hazard and associated risks must be recorded in the register. Even those hazards that are mitigated or eliminated also to be recorded for future references. It is also recommended to record all the accidents and any near misses’ activities in the register and shared with the wider project team to learn the lessons.

Step 5: Lesson Learnt and Healthy Start Meeting

Every construction project comes with unique challenges and opportunity. But it is also true that most of the construction projects (whether road or bridge or building or tunnel, etc) come with some activities that are common with other project completed in the past.

So, a lesson learnt from one project could be very useful for another project. It is highly recommended to share best practises, lesson learnt, near-miss accidents, etc at a healthy start meeting of a project. It would be an ideal opportunity for the project team and site team to gain the knowledge from another project and make their project site safe and secure for the entire project duration.

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I hope this blog helps you to understand the risk assessment procedure in simpler terms. Please feel free to comment and share your views or lessons from your own risk assessment learnings. Also, please see our Broad View of Civil Engineering Course, where there is a unique module for Risk and Mitigation Measures. Please see the interview of one of Health and Safety Expert, Sulagna Ghosh from Leeds, the UK at our YouTube channel.

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