Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Risk Assessments

Machine safeguarding is more than just plastic shielding and light curtains; it’s a process in which equipment is reviewed to improve the safe use of it.

A critical first step in this process is the risk assessment.

Risk to the individual is a combination of the frequency of exposure, probability of an injury and the severity of an injury that can occur.


A risk assessment is the overall process of risk analysis and risk evaluation.

It is referenced in the CSA Standard Z432-04: Safeguarding of Machinery.

There are multiple formats for the presentation of the results of a risk assessment.  For the purpose of this discussion we will discuss one such format.  The main purpose of the risk assessment is the same for all formats. It is not important which format you use, but that you are consistent across all hazards. A risk assessment evaluates the potential of hazardous events occurring, selects appropriate methods of reducing that potential, and evaluating the reduction in risk.  There are no fixed rules for a risk assessment, but it’s important that risk assessments are undertaken while the work activity is being performed.

A first important step is get the right people involved.  A risk assessment is best done with representation from all parties involved.  The operator of the equipment, the supervisor of the operators, maintenance personnel who service the equipment, engineers that specify and support the equipment and health and safety team members who know the types of injuries that can occur.  Others can be involved, as many people that are needed to get an accurate picture of the activities and their hazards.  This team’s first task is to list all the activities and the hazards that each activity has.  The primary method of gathering this information is the review of the work process, but other sources of information can come from the manufacturer, or previous injuries and near misses that have occurred.

With this list the first level of scoring can take place.  How many people are exposed to the hazard is important.  Then the hazards can be scored by Frequency (how often is the individual exposed to the hazard), Severity (what would be the injury if contacting that hazard), and Likelihood (what are the chances that an injury could occur at some time).  Frequency and Likelihood use similar scales while Severity uses a more progressive scale to ensure that higher severity injuries drive the risk scores up.  It’s important to calibrate the team.  One team member could believe something would only be a scratch but another team member thinks a more severe injury can occur.  With the scoring of the hazards complete, the team must look for any current controls that are in place.  These hazards must now be scored again taking into account the current controls.  Has the risk been adequately reduced?  Looking at these scores determine what additional risk reduction methods need to be employed.  It is best to choose a level of risk that the team feels is acceptable, and try to get all activities to meet this risk goal.

In conclusion the risk assessment is a valuable first step in a machine safeguarding process.  It can save time and money by getting the right people involved to ensure that whatever solution is proposed has had input from those most affected, and will be properly deployed and used.  Safeguarding that is not done with this process risks being ignored or bypassed and that creates the largest safety issue of all.

Posted by Administrator Administrator at 3:01 PM 0 Comments
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