Method, not madness

Method, not madness

From high-level decisions to everyday actions, whatever anyone within an organisation does carries an element of risk. Thankfully, there are also a few acronym-guided processes to help show the way, SHEQ discovers

When it comes to risk assessment and safe working procedures, detail is everything. The Mine Health and Safety Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act both require that risk assessments be performed to identify the hazards and exposure risks attached to all processes, procedures and practices.

When it comes to a process or activity that suffers regular incidents, a high-level risk assessment must be performed before any new project, process or activity is embarked upon. These high-level assessments are designed to identify the various risks and establish the risk magnitude of each one so that a risk profile can be compiled. This profile is then used to prioritise the application of risk reduction measures that will reduce the identified risks to whatever is regarded as an ‘acceptable risk level’.

Johannesburg-based Benrisk SHE Consulting has a useful tool to help in identifying the risks. It uses an acronym that represents the seven critical business resources: PEPMELF – People; Equipment; Processes, Procedures and Practices; Materials; Environmental; Legal and Liability; and Financial.

These are the critical resources in any organisation, and they’re all regarded as ‘at risk’. A risk-rated score for each identified risk can then be compiled into a risk profile that prioritises those that need risk reduction measures to be applied.From the baseline risk assessment, specific risks – those warranting further investigation – are identified. Next, all risks attached to each operational step of the identified risk are considered. This issue-based risk assessment is investigative in nature. It breaks the relevant process or activity into specific steps, and each step is then evaluated individually.

The end result of a process or job-task activity that has been detailed in such a manner becomes a step-by-step outline as to how that activity should be performed, together with details of the risks that might arise at each step. The step-by-step list lets those involved know exactly what must be done in terms of a safe working procedure for that process or task.

Benrisk uses a DO-KNOW approach to establish safe working Procedures, where:
• The DO text column represents the actual process or job-task steps (with the necessary Health and Safety Precautions included), and
• The KNOW text column represents the knowledge aspect, and explains why the step or precautions need to be applied during this step.
DO-KNOW documents can be used for employee training, and can be used for planned job observation purposes by any supervisor who needs to conduct a continuous risk assessment to ensure that employees are working in a safe manner.

Any safe working procedure deviation noted by a supervisor performing a planned job observation during the continuous risk assessment process must be corrected in consultation with the employee concerned.
Finally, to ensure continual improvements in risk reduction, it is essential that employees be retrained whenever there are any changes or revisions to a safe working procedure.

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