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Why is risk assesment important

Why is risk assessment important?

Risk assessments are very important as they form an integral part of a good occupational health and safety management plan. They help to:

  • create awareness of hazards and risks,
  • identify who may be at risk (employees, cleaners, visitors, contractors, the public, etc),
  • determine if existing control measures are adequate or if more should be done,
  • prevent injuries or illnesses when done at the design or planning stage, and
  • prioritize hazards and control measures.

What is a risk assessment?

Risk assessment is the process where you:

  • identify hazards,
  • analyze or evaluate the risk associated with that hazard, and
  • determine appropriate ways to eliminate or control the hazard.

In practical terms, a risk assessment is a thorough look at your workplace to identify those things, situations, processes, etc that may cause harm, particularly to people. After identification is made, you evaluate how likely and severe the risk is, and then decide what measures should be in place to effectively prevent or control the harm from happening.

For definitions and more information about what hazards and risks are, please see http://www.system-maintenance.com/maint/risk-assesments-c-8.html

What is the goal of risk assessment?

The aim of the risk assessment process is to remove a hazard or reduce the level of its risk by adding precautions or control measures, as necessary. By doing so, you have created a safer and healthier workplace.

How do you do a risk assessment?

Assessments should be done by a competent team of individuals who have a good working knowledge of the workplace. Staff should be involved always include supervisors and workers who work with the process under review as they are the most familiar with the operation.

In general, to do an assessment, you should:

  • identify hazards,
  • evaluate the likelihood of an injury or illness occurring, and its severity,
  • consider normal operational situations as well as non-standard events such as shutdowns, power outages, emergencies, etc.,
  • review all available heath and safety information about the hazard such as MSDSs, manufacturers literature, information from reputable organizations, results of testing, etc.,
  • identify actions necessary to eliminate or control the risk,
  • monitor and evaluate to confirm the risk is controlled,
  • keep any documentation or records that may be necessary. Documentation may include detailing the process used to assess the risk, outlining any evaluations, or detailing how conclusions were made.

When doing an assessment, you must take into account:

  • the methods and procedures used in the processing, use, handling or storage of the substance, etc..
  • the actual and the potential exposure of workers,
  • the measures and procedures necessary to control such exposure by means of engineering controls, work practices, and hygiene practices and facilities.

By determining the level of risk associated with the hazard, the employer and the joint health and safety committee can decide whether a control program is required.

It is important to remember that the assessment must take into account not only the current state of the workplace but any potential situations as well.

Click here to see a sample risk assessment form.

Is there a procedure for identifying risks?

The risk assessment form should be completed for any activity, task, etc. before the activity begins.

1 Identify hazards and their potential for causing harm. An inventory of hazards.
2 Rank hazards by priority A ranked list of hazards. This list will be useful in planning further action.
3 Determine hazard control measures. A record of hazard control measures at various locations.
Adequacy of hazard control measures.
4 Implement controls. Controls are in place and functioning appropriately.
5 Measure the effectiveness of controls. Monitor periodically to confirm controls continue to function.
6 Make changes to improve continuously. Monitor for improvements.

What is a sample risk assessment form?

The following is a sample. Be sure to customize it for your needs at your workplace.

Name of person doing assessment:




Activity / Procedure being assessed:


Known or expected hazards associated with the activity:

The risk of injury and its severity likely to arise from these hazards:  

Who is at risk?


Measure to be taken to reduce the level of risk:


Training prerequisites:


Level of risk remaining:


Action to be taken in an emergency:


References, if any:


Signature of Assessor:

Document last updated on February 2, 2009
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