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15th Oct 2020
Once you identify the potential risks, the next step is reducing, mitigating, and eliminating the risk in order to prevent serious accidents and injuries by introducing risk control measures in your workplace.
Putting a framework around safety and risk is extremely important to making your workplace safe. If you reduce the risk associated with your project, you can achieve much more and be confident that you will hit your goals.
Risk control measures address risk factors that could potentially cause an incident or injury in the workplace and can reduce or eliminate them completely. Just like with other risk assessment programs, there is a hierarchy to prioritise and rank risk control measures.
Your ultimate goal will be to eliminate risk entirely. Of course, sometimes completely removing risk is not an option. However, it should be the first line of defense considered because it offers the most protection. An example would be to completely remove a tripping hazard from a worksite.
If eliminating risk isn’t possible, your next step should be risk substitution. In most cases, risk substitution will require continuous assessment of the identified risks. An example would be to replace a guard rail with a taller one. There is still some risk of a safety incident, but it has been significantly reduced.
This risk control measure contains risk to an isolated space and personnel. The risk factor is only handled by properly trained and authorised personnel or is kept from the employee likely to experience it. For example, locking up highly flammable materials away from all ignition sources.
Sometimes things require redesign in order to reduce or remove risk. Depending on the situation, this may or may not be applicable.
Risk is controlled with training, planning, and personnel assignments. Best practice guidelines and additional training are examples of this type of control.
In some cases, personal protective equipment will be used as a measure to reduce risk. This is especially relevant during COVID-19 with the use of sanitiser, protective gloves and face masks.
With the right risk control measures in place, you will be able to identify at-risk employees, and know when, where, and how they are exposed to risk. This makes it easier to eliminate or reduce those risks. In addition, you will determine risk factors that are commonplace in your working environment. With these risks in mind, you can educate your workforce, especially those in leadership positions about the risks and select the right mitigation methods.
When you continually assess risk, it allows you to improve means of responding to risk and you will be able to evaluate the effectiveness of your mitigation methods.
Creating a safe work environment will mean that you’re complying with Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) regulation in your state and help you to avoid fines, fees, or if you’re self employed even incarceration due to negligence.
Cultivate a strong safety culture. If a safety culture is not a part of the organisation already, it’s important to create one. If one already exists, look at ways you can improve on what you have in place. Everyone needs to participate in order to maintain a risk-free or low-risk environment.
Lead from the top down. The leadership team and stakeholders should be at the centre of the creation or updating of any safety program. They can lead by example and are in a position to provide support to those implementing the safety program. If you have been appointed to implement risk control measures, you may need to get their buy-in by presenting ideas and data to get the support.
Evaluate your risk control plan. Part of mitigating risk in any project or workplace requires iteration. You should plan to measure the effectiveness of your efforts over time. Your goal should be to not only make a difference in you company’s safety, but to improve the safety of the projects you manage.
Planning for risks might require more work initially, however everyone deserves a safe workplace. It is your job as a project manager to take into account the needs of the stakeholders, as well as the workforce in order to ensure a safe working environment and a culture of safety that reduces work hazards.
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Following a risk management process is a vital part of project management. Get a quick overview of the process here.
Knowing the principles of what good risk management looks like will help you when planning for your next project.