Understand risk and reap the benefits of improved safety and reduced operating cost

JUNE 2016

The use of risk assessments has become commonplace within industry and has proved successful in reducing injury within industry. The same process can be used to reduce business risk and to focus resources where they can be most effective from a business perspective.

A formal risk assessment starts with identifying what could go wrong when performing a particular activity.  The likelihood and consequences of such an event occurring are then assessed.  Modifications are made to the design/activity in order to reduce the likelihood of an unfavorable event occurring or reducing the consequences should the event occur.  If the risk of conducting the activity is regarded to be tolerable, then the activity is undertaken with mitigation measures in place.

Formal risk assessments have resulted in a decrease in injury and death in a number of industries.  This is partly due to the risk assessment process identifying unacceptable consequences but also due to the focus being placed on performing a particular activity safely.  

Traditionally risk assessments have been focused on improving safety in the workplace.  The same process can be used in non-safety-related activities such as assessing business and reputational risk as well as for non-industrial activities.  It can also be used as a tool to focus resources on high-risk activities and to spend less resource on low-risk activities.

In cases of failure the results of formal failure investigation processes are vital to help reassess the risk and prevent costly re-occurrences.  Origen has conducted numerous failure investigations where the failure would not have occurred if a formal risk assessment had been undertaken to identify potential hazards.  Unfortunately in a number of cases the results of the failure investigation have not been used to change the design, operating conditions or controls and similar failures have occurred sometimes with catastrophic consequences.

Published in Technical Tips by Origen Engineering Solutions on 1 June 2016