The proof is in the assessment
According to an article on the website of the South African Labour Guide, in terms of health and safety there are basically three types of risk assessments companies can undertake.
In his article, Tinus Boshoff focuses on baseline, issue-based and continuous risk assessments. He examines each one in turn.
Baseline risk assessments
The purpose of conducting a baseline assessment is to establish a risk profile, or a set of risk profiles. It is used to prioritise action programmes for issue-based risk assessments.
It should be performed to obtain a benchmark of the types and size of potential hazards, which could have a significant impact on the whole organisation. It needs to identify the major and significant risks, prioritise them and evaluate the effectiveness of current systems used for risk control.
It must be emphasised that the baseline is an initial risk assessment that focuses on a broad overview,
in order to determine the risk profile to be used in subsequent risk assessments. A baseline risk assessment focuses
on the identification of risk that applies to the whole organisation or project.
This type of assessment could be performed on a site, in a region, or even on a national basis and could look at any facet of the organisation’s operations or procedures. It needs to be comprehensive and may even lead to other and more in-depth studies.
Issue-based risk assessments
The purpose of conducting an issue-based assessment is to conduct a detailed study that will result in the development of action plans for the treatment of significant risk.
This type of assessment is normally focused on operational activities, processes and systems-based business functions. It concentrates on the identification of the risks within a certain task, process or activity and is usually associated with the management of change.
Risk profiles from the baseline assessment form the foundation for establishing issue-based risk assessment programmes.
Continuous risk assessments
A continuous risk assessment should be conducted on an ongoing basis in the work environment. It is a powerful and important form of assessment and should take place as an integral part of day-to-day management.
In these risk assessments, the emphasis is on everyday hazard awareness and immediate risk treatment.
In developing hazard awareness, memory joggers such as checklists – for inspection, pre-use and critical parts and paths – can be produced from management controls that are a product of issue-based risk assessments. Planned task observations could also be conducted on an ongoing basis.
A continuous risk assessment is performed at an operational level, where the system, process and activities are monitored by the operational floor management and first-line supervisors. It must not be too sophisticated and should be conducted mainly by first-line supervisors.
Formal training in this regard is essential. The main emphasis is on “hazard awareness through hazard identification”.