Risk Assessment: A Fundamental Part of Machine and Workplace Safety
For today’s workplaces, identifying and managing risk in an industrial environment is critical to safeguard workers, protect business continuity, and to meet compliance requirements (including OSHA, ANSI, NFPA, RIA, and ISO/EN machine safety standards). Yet many don't know where to begin An effective starting point: your risk assessment. It’s the foundational step that will help you identify hazards and to reduce risks to an acceptable level so that you have a safe machine, a safe product, or a safe process. In this article, we’ll focus on risk assessment and how it relates to machinery safety for today’s workplaces. (We have a companion piece in the product safety area of our safety resources that explores risk assessment from that standpoint.)
Risk is the potential that a chosen action or inaction will lead to a loss. The notion of risk implies that you have a decision to make which will have an influence on the outcome. In the workplace, we’re exposed to risky situations every day. The goal is to help people to make good decisions, leading to positive outcomes.
What is a Risk Assessment?
Risk assessment is a process to evaluate risk, risk reduction methods, and team acceptance of the solution. Risk reduction is key in determining residual risks that personnel are exposed to. Risk assessment forms the basis of design for the machine safeguarding system.
The Value of Risk Management and Risk Assessments
Identifying and addressing safety issues in your workplace and on the products you manufacture might seem overwhelming. But, it’s imperative for safety. According to OSHA, a “root cause” of workplace injuries, illnesses, and incidents is failing to identify or recognize hazards that are present, or that could have been anticipated. A critical element of an effective safety and health program – and of product safety – is a proactive, ongoing process to identify and assess such hazards.
Why Perform a Risk Assessment?
By not implementing a risk assessment process, a workplace may be failing to safeguard employees and the company’s liability.
In addition, without a risk assessment in place, you’re in violation of U.S. safety regulations and standards. Risk assessments are required by U.S. laws and standards. Learn more in our infosheet, “Why Perform a Risk Assessment?”
In short, benefits of risk assessment include: preventing machine-related injuries, complying with regulations and standards, and avoiding financial impact.
Key Risk Assessment Standards
For consistency and to use the latest advances in risk management and risk assessment, following a standards-based risk assessment process is important. Recent risk assessment standards from ANSI and ISO exemplify today’s best practices in this field. These are useful tools to help prioritize risks and examine ways to reduce them, with helpful annexes for analyzing hazards and defining risk severity levels. The methods outlined in these standards can be tailored to become your team’s standardized process for product risk evaluation. Best practice standards in this field include ANSI B11.0, ANSI Z244.1, ANSI B11.19, ANSI B155.1, ANSI / RIA R15.06, and NFPA 79. There are also several industry standards requiring risk assessments that may provide additional insight, including – among many others – machinery, packaging machinery, semiconductor equipment, electrical systems, fire, and consumer products.
We’re Here to Help
Are you interested in taking next steps with your safety programs? Clarion Safety and our subsidiary Machine Safety Specialists (MSS) provide full-service machine safety and workplace liability prevention capabilities. With our expertise in OSHA, ANSI, NFPA, RIA, and ISO/EN safety standards, we can solve your machine safety compliance issues and provide unbiased machine risk assessments and safety audits. Reach out to us today to discuss your project!