Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Importance of 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 and is the foundation of our Machine Safeguarding Reports.  It is referenced in the CSA Standard Z432-04: Safeguarding of Machinery.

risk assessment model


The 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).  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.  These scores determine what additional risk reduction methods need to be employed.  The risk assessment can also outline for chosen controls what performance level is required.


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 Kristin Petaski at 11:52 AM 0 Comments
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