Health and Safety

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Tinus Boshoff


HIRA is not a one-off exercise, but a continuous process that affects business and employees for the rest of their working lives. It is not something that is going to ‘‘go away’’ or be replaced in a few years.


The introduction, performance and review of such a process involve a lot of time and effort. Due to the vast and varied nature of certain work process or tasks, it is important to plan the risk assessment and management the programme effectively. If we fail to plan, we plan to fail.


The first task when establishing a risk assessment process will be to define the scope of the separate risk assessment exercises. The intention should be that, through the risk assessment process, all of the business and its activities are comprehensively reviewed and assessed. Some care is therefore needed in laying down the scope of the separate risk assessment exercises to ensure that no areas or activities are missed.


The following aspects or guidelines should be followed during the planning phase


First we need to ask ourselves, how detailed should a risk assessment be? The level of detail recorded in the assessment should relate to the level of risk.


The risk assessment should cover the risk arising out of the work or task which is reasonably foreseeable. Risk arising from everyday activities associated with life in general and not normally thought of as being of concern (for example a paper cut) may not require the same detail attention unless the work activity or organisation compounds these risks.


Where an organisation operates the same activities from similar workplaces, they may produce a basic or generic risk assessment that addresses those risks. However, local circumstances may require you to adapt or amend the assessment for each workplace or work activity.


For operations which don't change, the risk assessment should be such that it is not necessary to repeat it every time someone is exposed to a hazard in comparable circumstances.


For operations which do change often, or where the work activity may change fairly frequently, or the workplace itself changes and develops, or where the work involves workers moving from site to site, the risk assessment will have to concentrate more on the broad range of risks. Detailed planning and employee training should take account of those risks and enable them to be managed as and when they arise.


A risk assessment should reflect an independent, objective evaluation of the risk attached to the work environment as well as those performing work related activities.


The assessment should indicate the control measures needed to manage these risks effectively. These assessments will help to eliminate, mitigate or reduce risk to the lowest level, thus forming part of the prescribed safe systems of work.


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