January 26, 2015 | Barb Carr

Risk Assessment and Management Best Practices

Risk Assessments are necessary in all safety processes, particularly to move programs beyond Behavior Based Safety (BBS).

At least qualitative Risk Assessments (RA) need to be included during any safety-related discussions or interactions, conversations, and meetings. RA are needed every time any safety-related decision needs to be made; and therefore, to move safety programs beyond traditional BBS principles and practices.

RA in safety processes, including BBS – type programs, improve decision-making by making them less subjective, emotional and biased. Safety decision-making needs to be based on the comparative risk levels of the options under consideration. Any chosen safety decision needs to be the option for which the likelihood and quantum of benefit and gain outweighs the likelihood and quantum of loss and harm more than for any other option.

Which option provides the best chance of gain and benefit at both personal and corporate levels?

One such illustrative example is related to un-demonizing the term “shortcut”.

The original, best definition of a shortcut is very simple, positive and with no emotive undertones:

“a smarter, better way of doing a job”

or

“the method, procedure that best reduces the time / $ / energy needed to achieve business objectives.”

Can a shortcut ever be an appropriate, lower risk and authorized job method? And how?

In any safety discussions between managers, supervisors and workers, this definition can help clarify the troublesome distinction between “finding a shortcut,” and “taking a shortcut without an authorized risk assessment.” Finding is undeniably “smart.” Taking without RA is patently “dumb.”

Issues of workplace complexity and relationships between managers, supervisors and workers need to be addressed to be able to move safety programs and cultures beyond BBS principles and practices. Workplace relationships are based on trust, respect, credibility, encouragement, and valued appreciation of jointly-found solutions of challenges and issues. RA provides processes needed in relationship-based safety RBS.

Positive relationships include establishing and holding common beliefs that we want everyone to come to work with their brains as well as their brawn, (and hopefully their hearts), because we all recognize that it is in everyone’s interest for everyone to be always challenged to find smarter better ways of doing our jobs. That is what business is about! It is the never-ending goal of finding smarter, more efficient, more effective, more productive and safer (lower risk) ways of doing our work.

However, too often we tell our people we need and want their “shortcut” ideas for more efficiency and productivity, but as soon as they do give them we jump on them and label their suggestions with negative emotive labels such as “violations” or “breaches” of existing rules and describe them in meaningless, undefined terms such as “unsafe acts” or “at-risk behaviors”. Use of these negative, emotion-loaded terms actually discourages searching for the deep underlying root causes of an apparently stupid, careless, and lazy “violation.”

It is more appropriate to use non-emotive descriptors such as “variations,” “adaptations,” “departures,” or very simply “work-arounds.”

All day-to-day safety meetings, discussions, and personal risk taking behavioral choices involve BBS questions such as:

  • Which procedure or method is safer (lower risk) than another?
  • Which is the safer tool, plant, equipment for this job?
  • Which risk control option is better than the others?
  • Which route should be taken?
  • Which control panel design is less error-provoking than the other?
  • Which roster is best for managing fatigue?
  • What is the appropriate time that we need to allocate to this incident investigation?
  • What to say and how to interact / converse with my peers, supervisors and managers?

These real examples of safety optioneering processes make a compelling argument for doing at least a qualitative (but preferably a Semi – Quantitative) Risk Assessment.

In fact, Risk Assessments will be recognized as definitely needed every time any safety-related decision needs to be made and therefore can move safety programs beyond traditional BBS principles and practices often confused and undermined by subjective beliefs, biases and perceptions.

How can you improve your confidence in the accuracy, reliability, consistency of Risk Assessments?

Learn Best Practices in the training courses being offered as below.

Houston, Texas
May 20-21, (Weds-Thurs)

To register: http://www.taproot.com/store/2-Day-Risk-Management-Training-1505HOUS20.html

Calgary, Canada
May 27-28, (Wed-Thurs)
To register: http://www.taproot.com/store/2-Day-Risk-Management-Training-1505CALG27.html

Las Vegas, Nevada
June 1-2 (Mon-Tues before the TapRooT® Summit)
To register: http://www.taproot.com/store/2-Day-Risk-Management-Training-1506LASV01-RISKMGMT.html

IN-HOUSE Courses are also available. Contact us for a quote.

Jim WhitWhiting.Jiming, an international expert in risk management and root cause analysis will be conducting the courses detailed above. The courses are the updated versions of a highly successful course that he has been offering for a number of years to over 200 attendees at Pre-Summit courses at past TapRooT® Summits. Due to increasing requests for more offerings of the course, the TapRooT® folks and Jim have decided to offer three RAMBP PUBLIC Courses in North America in 2015.

Jim was on Committees developing the Risk Management Standard AS/ISO 31000 which has been adopted word for word by US standard bodies as ANSI Z690.2 and Canadian bodies as CAN/CSA/ISO 31000. He has developed Risk Assessment unique tools and processes for maximizing the confidence of the results of assessments need to make all safety-related decision-making such as – what is a tolerable risk ?

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