If you’re looking to improve the safety of your company, the first thing you should do is a gap analysis. Look at your current safety state and compare it to the target state you are trying to achieve. If you don’t have a target state yet, you can use the ISO 45001 safety standard.
Whether you want to get certification in the standard or not, it’s a good process to follow. One of the ISO 45001 requirements is a risk register, which is a good starting point for your safety journey.
What Exactly is a Risk Register?
It is a huge list of all of the risks in your business. The list is created by having a team go through all of the activities in the workplace to identify each risk. A team is needed because one person will have their own idea of what is a risk and what isn’t a risk. If their risk tolerance is high, many potential risks could go unnoticed. A team will average out the risk tolerance of the group and will be a good indicator of the safety culture of the company (see Evolving Your Company’s Safety Culture, coming soon !).
A good step to take prior to the risk identification walkabout, is to check the top 10 most cited OSHA violations each year. This list is renewed at every fiscal year, starting each October 1st. Just a friendly suggestion that can be a good guide for risk identification. If you want to get started with something more specific top your industry , OSHA.gov also provide access to a tool to list the most frequently cited Federal or State OSHA standards for a specified 6-digit North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code, right here.
Many of the responsibilities of employers under the OHS law relate to hazard recognition, control and communication. For example: “Establish or update operating procedures and communicate them so that employees comply with safety and health requirements”. In order to do that you need to know what your risks are to properly design procedures. And how do you do that? By going through your company, identifying all the risks and putting them into your risk register.
Your First Safety Step
Whether you already have a safety system in place or not, a risk register is the beginning of your safety journey towards your target state. You need to know what you’re managing before you can prioritize and manage those risks.
People tend to think that workers see risks on the spot, but they need to be aware of them as risks before they can spot them. Some risks are obvious to everyone like a hole in the floor. But even that isn’t obvious to a worker who has to carry something that obstructs his view of the floor.
What’s the Register Made of?
The register itself is a very long list of risk items, and can be on paper, a spreadsheet, or proprietary software. Each risk has a various information to help categorize it, such as:
Quantifying this information, and using a specific formula, you can get calculation results that will prioritize the risks.
Here’s some screenshots of CONFORMiT’s risk register platform:
Items can be sorted in any number of ways. Here they are sorted by their risk level. Red being highest risk. They are also given an overall number corresponding to the color, then a smaller, more precise number which is a calculation of the risk level.
A display of one of the items gives more information to get a comprehensive understanding of the risk.
At the bottom of the screen is the calculated risk index. This example shows the calculation that creates the risk value. On the bottom right is a toggle between Net and Raw, meaning after and before risk management.
Once some work is done to reduce the risk, the updates are made to the file. The new calculation shows a reduced risk.
As more steps are taken to reduce the risk, the index now reduces to an acceptable level.
As you take care of the high-risk items and your safety culture improves, you are able to lower the threshold of the risk tolerance and take care of even lower risk items. Bringing risks to an acceptable level, reducing risk tolerance and improving safety culture are key techniques to reduce accidents in the workplace.
Our Software Can Help Build Your Risk Register
If you don’t already have a risk register, you will end up creating one using the data from each accident that occurs. It will grow on its own over time but it will be filled with risks you didn’t identify first. In other words, all the risks in your risk register will be events that could have been avoided if you took the first steps towards a risk register.
With a little help from CONFORMiT and their EHS software, you can easily create your risk register and begin reducing the number of events at your workplace. Give us a call to learn more about our software and how it can start improving the safety at your workplace.
By Maxime Ouellet, Chief Innovation and Product Officer.