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5 Benefits of a Tailored WHS Risk Assessment in the Workplace

By Head of Health, Safety and Wellbeing, Aaron Boyes 

No two workplaces are the same. Hence, no two risk assessments should be completely the same. Most organisations can use a standard work health and safety risk assessment without any issue, but in some workplaces, a tailored assessment offers additional benefits.  

What is a WHS Risk Assessment?

A work health and safety risk assessment is used to identify which workers are at risk of hazards and the severity of those hazards. The source and processes around the risk are determined, as well as the potential control measures to increase safety and a recommendation is made on the best time to implement these. The effectiveness of any existing control measures are considered, and finally, how urgent action should be taken. 

Risk Management Process

The four steps of the risk management process include:

  • Identify hazards
  • Assess risks
  • Control risks
  • Review hazards and controls measures

Difference Between a Standard and Tailored Risk Assessment

A standard assessment uses a risk matrix to provide a visual representation of the risk analysis and the correlation between the probability of an occurrence and level of severity. But not all organisations fit into the standard risk matrix.  

Some workplaces complete non-standard tasks, use non-standard equipment, or have workers with special requirements. A tailored risk assessment can take these differences into account.

Methods of a Risk Assessment

The methods of a standard and tailored risk assessment are often the same.

Observing: Walking around the workplace to look at the activities, tasks, and processes employees use to complete their jobs.

Review information: Manufacturers’ data sheets and instructions help the assessor ensure that plant, equipment, and substances are being used correctly.

Check history: Past accidents, near misses, and employee poor health records can highlight areas of concern. The history outlines what actions have been taken previously to mitigate risk and the level of success.

Discussion with employees: Talking to the people who complete the tasks gives assessors a good insight into potential hazards and areas employees feel need more attention than others.

But your workplace may have physical, mental, chemical, ergonomic or biological hazards that are different to other workplaces. Having a tailored assessment can ensure these risks are closely analysed.

Benefits of a Tailored WHS Risk Assessment

It’s not enough to just note general risks. The Safe Work Australia website lists known risks for some industries. All organisations are expected to identify business-specific risks and to tailor their assessment to include these risks.

#1 Risk or Hazard Identified

A standard risk assessment may not identify every risk or hazard that’s relevant to a unique workplace. The tailored assessment can focus on areas of the organisation that aren’t standard and may be only relevant to their workplace.    

#2 Better Engagement Amongst Employees

A tailored risk assessment means employees are more engaged and willing to own their WHS responsibilities. Moreover, a tailored focus means only relevant information is included in the document so there is less chance of missing what’s important.

#3 Close Attention to Areas that Matter

A tailored WHS risk assessment is more likely to note areas that may have higher risks than other similar workplaces. A standard assessment may overlook the new piece of equipment or the increase in staff taking stress leave.

#4 Trust and Morale

With a tailored approach staff can feel confident that the management team takes the risk assessment process seriously and is willing to invest in an outside expert to complete the assessment. Knowing that a professional has completed the assessment can offer peace of mind to staff members that every risk or hazard has been considered.

#5 Productivity & Retention Improvements

Many organisations focus almost all their attention on the physical risks and barely give a thought to the psychological safety of staff. But for those organisations that put in the work to ensure the workplace is psychologically safe, workers in all areas can feel that the organisation welcomes their ideas and concerns without judgement.    

Risk assessments, whether based on workplace safety or psychological risk, should be a collaborative effort between the organisation and external service provider. That's why Altius Group conducts workplace risk assessments in a consultative way, reviewing effectiveness over time to continually improve measures and improve safety. Contact us online or call 1800 258 487 for more information or assistance.

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