There is risk in virtually every job performed within your organization; whether an employee is emptying a trash can or replacing a worn impellor on an electric service pump, you can guarantee that someone, somewhere, has been hurt perform that same task before.
The question becomes, how much time should employees take to properly risk assess a job. Most of us agree that more complex jobs should require a higher level of planning than simpler tasks, but where should we draw the line between a simple risk assessment and full blown job safety analysis with and hazard and operability study (HAZOP)?
One shipping company I worked with had a 27 page procedure to explain the process of risk assessing jobs. While it was a robust policy, there was so much irrelevant and unnecessary information that the document offered little to no value as a reference for employees working on the frontline.
The company utilized a variety of safety management tools including prompt cards, written risk assessments (JSAs), step by step procedures, and HAZOPs to plan and safely execute tasks, but the actual level of risk assessment to be used was left mainly up to the person performing the task or their direct supervisor.
To solve this particular issue, we worked with management to develop a quick reference flow chart that guided employees through the company’s various levels of risk assessment tools. While the original risk assessment procedure was kept as a more formal reference, the vital information that the employees needed was now found on a simple to understand 1 page flow chart.
Employees were asked simple questions such as “Are more than 2 people involved in the task?” or “Does the equipment being worked on need to be electrically or mechanically isolated?” As they worked their way through the brief questions the chart would show them what level of risk assessment planning was recommended for that particular activity.
Initially, the flowchart was posted in various locations around the facility but the information quickly became second nature to the team members and they began doing it instinctively.
As I’ve mentioned in previous post, you’ve got to be careful that your company doesn’t go overboard with safety.