Recently I was involved in a joint presentation on Risk Assessment at the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) along with George Wedgewood, chairman of the IOSH Technical Committee and fellow member of the IET H&S Policy Advisory Group. As one of my core skills is Dynamic Risk Assessment I am concerned that so many people view risk assessment as complex and bureaucratic.
Risk assessment is seen as a barrier to people doing things, preventing them fromtaking any risks at all and viewed as either restrictive or as a huge wad of cotton wool to wrap everyone up with.
Far from being restrictive or over-protective, risk assessment is exactly what it says – it’s for identifying and assessing risks. Risk assessment requires that risks are recognised and that reasonable steps are taken to reduce them, but it isn’t necessary to attempt to remove risk altogether – that is completely unrealistic.
Dynamic Risk Assessment takes it a step further so that work doesn’t have to stop to carry out a risk assessment every time circumstances change. It empowers the worker to assess the situation and make good quality decisions about what action to take to accommodate the risks.
Normal risk assessment is carried out strategically and is generic at that level. At mid-management level it can be more specific – but it doesn’t have any flexibility, it’s a static assessment and workers are rarely involved in the risk assessment process. It’s time they were and Dynamic Risk Assessment is the tool to do it!
Even the phrase ‘Dynamic Risk Assessment’ is misunderstood – managers see it as excuse for allowing people to act on ‘gut-instinct’. However, whilst Dynamic Risk Assessment incorporates an intuitive approach to risk assessment, it still has to be part of a system, with feedback and debriefing.
It allows for the acceptance of mistakes – but also provides for the investigation of those errors so that the system can be improved. In other words, it’s a key element of continuous business improvement!