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©2006 All Copyrights Reserved

Risk
Assessment:
Simplified

A resource for Safety


Personnel, Supervisors and
Managers

By Raj Singh

©2006 All Copyrights Reserved 1


©2006 All Copyrights Reserved

Singh, Raj.
Risk Assessment: Simplified / Raj Singh

p. cm.

Includes all pages and contents.

ISBN 981-05-5123-1

1. Occupational Safety- Handbooks, manuals, training, etc

Copyright © 2006 by Raj Singh


Printed by Simply Safety

All rights reserved. No part of this book and its pictures may
be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in
any form or by any means electronic, mechanical,
photocopying, scanning, recording or otherwise, without the
prior written permission from the author Raj Singh.


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©2006 All Copyrights Reserved

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A lot has already been said and done with regards to Risks
Assessments and Risks Matrixes. Safety Consultants and
Trainers have been trying to educate their clients on how to
develop Risks Assessments.

Yet, Risks Assessments are hardly used. Even if they are


used or developed, they are just there for paper play.

There seems not to have much improvement on this. Can


something be done? After all experienced Safety
Consultants and Trainers are doing the best they can to
help clients get an understanding of Risks Assessments
and how to develop them. Or are they? Can more be done?

If the result is the same year after year, is it not time to


change some of the ingredients?

Although this guide is trying to do is to help people


understand how a Risk Assessment works and how people
can start carrying out Risk Assessments, its main aim is to
help people understand how “Risk Levels” or Risks are
quantified and how a the Risk Matrix should be changed to
help people understand it better.

Raj Singh
Safety Health and Environment Advisor

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 Step 7- Control Measures
After Risks Assessments are carried out, the high risk
Assessment;
operations are determined and countermeasures
Assessment is the act of judging or assessing a
developed. Risks Assessments allow you to prioritize which
person or situation or event;
risks are to be lowered to acceptable levels.
Frequency;
High Risk Levels must be immediately brought down to
Frequency is the number of occurrences (near
medium or low risk. Medium Risk Levels must also be
misses, incidents, accidents etc) within a given time
reviewed to determine if there is any possible manner to
period
bring the levels down further.
Hazard;
All risks must be reduced to levels which are safe for
Hazard is a source of danger, a possibility of
personnel and any other stakeholders.
incurring loss or misfortune.
Risks control measures should be applied to the Risk
Ministry of Manpower Singapore defines Hazard as;
beginning with Elimination, Substitution, Engineering
“Hazard means anything or any source or
Controls, Administrative Controls or (lastly) with personal
situation with the potential to cause harm or
protective equipment.
injury; hazard includes physical, chemical,
biological, mechanical, electrical and
ergonomic hazard.”

Likelihood;
Likelihood is the probability of a specified outcome.

Severity;
Severity is the degree of something undesirable (no
loss time injury, loss time injury, fatality etc)

Risk;
Ministry of Manpower Singapore defines risk as:
“Risk is the likelihood that a hazard will cause a
specific harm or injury to someone or
something. More specifically, it is the likelihood
of accidents or ill health occurring at work and
the consequences of such occurrences.”
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Step 6- Assessing the Risks Risk can also be defined as:


After you have evaluated your likelihood and severity, you
Risk = Likelihood X Severity
can determine your Risk. Remember that Risk is a product
of likelihood and severity. Once you have done that, refer
(The higher the likelihood and the severity, the higher the
back to the new Risk Matrix and determine the Risk Level.
risk)

Likelihood Severity Risk Risk Assessment;


Low (1) High (3) 3(now look at your matrix and Ministry of Manpower Singapore defines risk
determine the Risk Level) (Medium) assessment as;
Low (1) High (3) 3 Medium “Risk assessment is defined as a systematic way
Low (1) High (3) 3 Medium of identifying hazards associated with work or a
Medium (2) High (3)… 6 High certain activity, examining the severity or
consequences from these hazards occurring,
assessing the likelihood or probability of
Medium (2) Medium (2) 4 Medium
occurrence, and determining what measures
Medium (2) Medium (2) 4 Medium should be taken to eliminate or control the
hazards and reduce the risk.”

High (3) Medium (2) 6 High


High (3) Medium (2) 6 High Overview of Risk Assessments
High (3) Medium (2) 6 High Risk Assessments should aid companies or individuals in
identifying hazards, estimating severity and likelihood and
High (3) Medium (2) 6 High determining which risks must be tackled first. It helps
Medium (2) Low (1) 2 Low
personnel and companies prioritize their RISKS! Even
Medium (2) Low (1) 2 Low
Medium (2) High (1) 2 Low
though all risks must be tacked, you need to tackle high
risks first! It is a tool that companies or individuals can and
High (3) Medium (2) 6 High should use. Tools should be easy and comfortable to use.
Medium (2) Low (1) 2 Low
Medium (2) Low (1) 2 Low Forming a Team
Medium (2) High (3) 6 High A Team must be formed. The Team must work together for
a successful Risk Assessment.
Medium (2) High (3) 6 High
Medium (2) Medium (2) 4 Medium
Medium (2) Medium (2) 4 Medium Why Risk Assessments fail
Risks Assessments are might not be easy to understand
and to do. In the end, the Safety Personnel would be
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ultimately asked to complete or do the Risk Assessment in Step 5- Evaluate the Severity
its entirety and not the team.
Why Risks Assessments should be Now you can evaluate the severity of an occurrence
Shared
Members of the Team should carry out the task. Not Hazards Severity
because it’s been handed to them. Once they take on the Failure to apply permit High (3) (Could cause lives &
responsibility of carrying out the task, they will take In compatible works at the same property)
ownership of the Risk Assessment. Once they take on the area at the same time High (3) (explosions/fires….)
ownership, the Risk Assessment becomes more than just a Gas Checks not carried out
document that is mandatory, more than a legally required Presence of flammable High (3) (explosions/fires….)
document. It becomes a tool that is used time and again. materials, gases or vapors High (3)…

Materials to heavy to be handled


Assessing Risks manually (sprains and strains) Medium (2)
Materials cause obstructions or
Before carrying out risk assessments or risk management,
tripping hazards Medium (2)
the manner in which risks are assessed needs to be
understood. The need to understand which event will lead Cables not in good condition
to a high or low risk must be understood. Cables cause tripping hazards Medium (2)
Cables in contact with water Medium (2)
Medium (2)
Quantifying Eye injuries to welder
How to assess the severity or the likelihood of an Burns and scalds to welder Medium (2)
occurrence? This is done by giving it a figure or amount. Burns and scalds to others Low (1)
Assigning a value to it, this is known as quantifying. Sparks and slag cause fires Low (1)
High (1)
Eye injuries to welder
Quantifying Severity Burns and scalds to welder Medium (2)
Why quantify? It’s easier for people to understand things Burns and scalds to others Low (1)
once values are assigned to items. Everyone is clear on Sparks and slag cause fires Low (1)
what to expect. Everyone has different expectations. High (3)
Grinding disc breaks
Typical quantifications could be as follows:-
Sparks from grinder injures High (3)
worker Medium (2)
Low or Minor Sparks from grinder injures Medium (2)
others
Medium or Moderate

High or Major
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Step Four- Evaluating the Likelihood


Setting Limits for Severity
Once you have listed your Hazards, it is time to evaluate Limits must be set before moving on. One basic way to set
the likelihood or possibility of the hazard occurring. limits is to base it on near no loss time injuries, lost time
non-reportable injuries and lost time reportable injuries
Hazards Likelihood Low: Near miss, non injury accidents and
Failure to apply permit Low (1) damage to plant/equipment/materials
In compatible works at the same Low (1) that is of no consequence
area at the same time
Gas Checks not carried out Low (1)
Presence of flammable materials, Medium (2) Medium: Lost Time Injuries, Medical
gases or vapors Treatments, First Aid, damage to
plant/equipment/materials that cost
Materials to heavy to be handled Medium (2) money and time to repair.
manually (sprains and strains)
Materials cause obstructions or Medium (2) High: Reportable accidents. Damage to
tripping hazards plant/equipment/materials that is not
repairable
Cables not in good condition High (3)
Cables cause tripping hazards High (3)
Cables in contact with water High (3) Quantifying Likelihood
Eye injuries to welder High (3)
Burns and scalds to welder Medium (2) Why quantify? Again it’s easier for people to understand
Burns and scalds to others Medium (2) things once values are assigned to items. Everyone is clear
Sparks and slag cause fires Medium (2) on what to expect.

Eye injuries to welder High (3) Typical quantifications could be as follows:-


Burns and scalds to welder Medium (2) Low or Remote
Burns and scalds to others Medium (2)
Sparks and slag cause fires Medium (2)
Medium or Occasional
Grinding disc breaks Medium (2)
Sparks from grinder injures Medium (2) High or Frequent
worker Medium (2)
Sparks from grinder injures others

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Setting Limits for Likelihood Step Three- Identify the Hazards for
Each Job Step
Consider if the occurrence can happen. One way of setting
limits for likelihood is to base it on whether the occurrence
could happen. Job Step Hazards
Low: Unlikely to happen (could not Permit is applied and approved Failure to apply permit
happen/occur easily) In compatible works at the same
(Happens only once every ten years) area at the same time
Gas Checks not carried out
Presence of flammable materials,
Medium: Likely to happen (could
gases or vapors
happen/occur)
(Happens yearly) Worker brings materials to be Materials to heavy to be handled
used to site manually (sprains and strains)
High: Very likely to happen (very possible Materials cause obstructions or
to happen/occur) tripping hazards
(Happens monthly)
Welding cables are set in place Cables not in good condition
Cables cause tripping hazards
Quantifying Risks Cables in contact with water

Once you have quantified the severity and likelihood, Risks Welder proceeds to carry out tack Eye injuries to welder
can be assessed. Risks are assessed with the help of a welding Burns and scalds to welder
Risk Matrix. A Matrix can come in a 3X3 or 5X5 Matrix Burns and scalds to others
Sparks and slag cause fires

Once tack welding is complete, Eye injuries to welder


full weld is carried out Burns and scalds to welder
Burns and scalds to others
Sparks and slag cause fires

Grinder is used to smoothed Grinding disc breaks


welds Sparks from grinder injures
worker
Sparks from grinder injures others
A typical 3 X 3 Risk Matrix
And so on…………..

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Welder proceeds to carry out tack welding The Next Step


Once tack welding is complete, full weld is carried
out
Grinder is used to smoothed welds The Team identifies which tasks or areas of work must be
looked into first based on statistics or legal requirements.
Welding cables and rubbish is cleared
The team identifies how a typical task (the task that was
Permit is closed and returned
chosen) is carried out.
Or you could also break down the job steps to
The team identifies all possible hazards associated with the
Permit Application task. The team brainstorms on the likelihood of the hazards
Preparation Works occurring.
Materials transfer
Performing hotworks Then the Team gives up because they feel that it becomes
Housekeeping too tedious or difficult to understand the table or matrix.
Closing Permits
What Is Wrong?
However in this manner you might miss out on some
of the actions or tasks to be undertaken by the People or Teams give up doing Risks Assessments
workers and as such, miss out on the possible risks. because they feel that it is not helpful, it is cumbersome, it
is difficult or it does not relate to the real world

People take the path of least resistance. They choose


pleasure over pain. Ease over discomfort.

If a tool is not readily learnt, understood or unwieldy, it then


becomes useless as people will choose to ignore it. Why
force people to take up a difficult tool?

Risk Assessment is just one step or one of the tools used in


Risk Management Risk assessments helps users to decide
how to set its priorities to tackle the most harmful and the
most likely risks first. It must be easy to understand, learn
and use. Tools that are difficult to use are more likely the
tools that are left unused.

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Just as Risk Assessment is a Tool in Risk Management, the carry out Job Safety Analysis for. Work from those down.
“Risk Matrix” is a Tool in Risk Assessments. If that “Risk Review all routine as well as non-routine jobs
Matrix” becomes difficult to learn and use, then it becomes
useless.

How do we improve the situation? Step Two- Break down the Job into
Steps
Let us get back to basics that we can understand.
Once a task has been chosen, break down the task into
Risk is a product of Severity and Likelihood. As severity smaller steps. Do not generalize and also do not over do it.
increases and the likelihood increases, so does RISK!
Example- Welding a metal plate to a vessel wall
By assigning values to Severity and Likelihood, it allows
people to grasp things a little better. Can this be improved Task (over simplified)
further? Yes. Assign a numeric number to Severity and Worker welds metal plate to the wall
Likelihood. 1 being the least in value and 3 being the
greatest. Task (too detailed)
Worker takes the metal plate
Worker pulls welding cable from welding set to 1st
Low severity = 1
floor
Worker pulls welding cable from 1st floor to 2nd floor
Medium Severity = 2
Worker switches on welding set
Worker takes a welding rod in on hand
High Severity = 3 Worker takes the welding rod holder in the other
hand
Low Likelihood = 1 Worker places the welding rod into the holder
….
Medium Likelihood = 2 ….
….
High Likelihood = 3 …
..
.
Something We Can Relate To
Task (Correct)
Once numerical values are assigned to severity and Permit is applied and approved
likelihood, what next? Risk is a product of Severity and Worker brings materials to be used to site
Welding cables are set in place
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is not to find faults with the people or work procedure but to Likelihood. It’s easier to work with exact numbers then just
find risks and later to counter those risks. Those in the team words.
should have some training on risk assessments or risk
assessment methodology.
According to the Ministry of Manpower, employers shall
Something We Can See
have a competent person leading the team to carry out risk
assessments. Employers shall also ensure that the risk How can risk assessment be looked at in a way that is easy
control. The employer shall keep a Risk Assessment for people to relate to and at the same time, easy for people
Register and a Risk Control Register. to see that relation? Risk is a product of severity and
likelihood. It is directly proportionate to severity and
Risks assessments and Risk Control Plans are useless if likelihood. As the severity and the likelihood increase, RISK
they are only table-top exercises that are not implemented increases. How can this be seen?
or are not highlighted to the people on the ground. All Risk
Assessments and Risk Control Plans should be
disseminated to all personnel working on those tasks.

With Risk Assessments and Risk Control Plans, Standard


Safe Work Procedures can be developed. This will form a
Standard Operating Procedure for all personnel.

Risk Assessments and Risk Control Plans should be


reviewed if there are changes to the process or inputs of
the task.

Step One- Choose the Task


Once a team has been formed, look through your accident Now that there is a picture to illustrate how Likelihood can
records or statistics. Where, when, why, who and how do increase (y-axis) and Severity (x-axis), go a little further.
the incidents/accidents occur?

Are the accidents/incidents from a particular type of work?


Are the accidents/incidents from a particular area of work?
Focus on those more obvious or accident prone tasks, jobs
and areas first. Also remember that the Ministry of
Manpower has also a number of tasks or jobs that you must

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The team brainstorms on the likelihood of the hazards


occurring.

Priority is assigned so that, tasks that are very likely to


severely injure someone, can be handled first.

Risk Control Plans are developed.

Risk Control Plans are implemented.

Personnel are informed of the control measures.

Tasks are re-observed to affirm that the control measures in


place are adequate and will bring the risk down. The control
measures themselves should not cause or create additional
As mentioned earlier, Risk is the product of likelihood and risks.
severity. If the likelihood is zero (this is only an example!),
no matter what the Severity, the RISK is zero.
Who Does What?
Risks Assessment should be a shared task. The task
should be preformed by a team of people from the
company. The team should comprise of management staff,
the process or production staff, maintenance staff and
Safety Personnel.

Risks Assessment teams should be lead by a senior


member of the management. He should be versed in the
objectives of risk assessments as well as the methodology
of the risks assessments.

The Safety Personnel on board should inform, educate or


advise on the legal requirements as well as ask questions
that probe into the hazards and counter-measures.
Same holds true for the other way around.
Those in the team should have a clear understanding that
there is a no blame policy. The risk assessment carried out
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Once you are more competent, you could use the If course limits have already been set (1, 2 and 3) so do not
Simple5©. consider 0 (zero) outcomes. What if the severity is 1(it is
low severity) and the likelihood is 2 (medium likelihood).

Multiply 2 X 1=2 or plot it on the graph

If severity is 2(medium severity) and the likelihood is 1 (low


likelihood. Either multiply 2 X 1= 2 or plot it on the graph.

Putting It All Together


The team identifies which tasks or areas of work must be
looked into first based on statistics or legal requirements.

The team observes how a typical task (the task that was
chosen) is carried out.

The team identifies all possible hazards associated with the


task.

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If the severity is 3(high severity) and the likelihood is 3 (high Table or Matrix
likelihood. Either multiply 3 X 3 = 9 or plot it on the graph
A table can easily replace a typical (difficult) to understand
matrix

1 X 1 = 1 (low)

1 X 2 = 2 (low)

1 X 3 = 3 (Medium)

2 X 2 = 4 (Medium)

2 X 3 = 6 (High)

3 X 3 = 9 (Very High)

Or the typical matrix can be replaced with this new “Risk


Matrix”. This is called a Simple3©;

The area can be split the area into different quadrants


(according to numerical values)
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