Risk Assessment By Government And Private Entities Construction Essay

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

In order to meet the public's increasing demand for a safer, healthier workplace the practice of risk assessment by government and private entities has steadily increased over the past decade (Solvic, 1998). Corresponding with this increase has been an increase in guidance documentation such as legislation and codes of practices dealing with at least some aspects of occupational risk, safety or ergonomic assessment. In the United Kingdom these documents include, but is not limited to:

Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992

Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992

Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 (The Institution of Engineering and Technology, 2010)

Although there are various methods which could be utilized to meet the risk assessment requirements of the above regulations (and other similar guidance documents) there are fundamental factors which unite these methods. In this report these essential factors, which are considered when ascertaining risk, will be identified.


The International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) Secretariat defines risk assessment as a methodology to determine the nature and extent of risk by analysing potential hazards and evaluating existing conditions of vulnerability that could pose a potential threat or harm to people, property, livelihoods and the environment on which they depend (ISDR, 2010). Risk assessment may also be defined as the process of estimating the magnitude of risk and deciding whether or not the risk is tolerable (Trinidad and Tobago Bureau of Standards, 2008).

Types of Risk Assessment

It should be noted that neither of the above definitions of risk assessment state the manner in which the assessment is carried out. This is due to the fact that the process is dependent on the nature of the work or business and the types of hazards and risks.

Based on the methodology used there are two basic forms of risk assessment: qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative risk assessments are the more common of the two due to its simplicity. This method is subjective, based on personal judgment, and normally defines risk as high, medium or low (Hughes and Ferrett, 2003). This risk assessment method is suitable for work or businesses where the risk level can be judged from historical data or via guidance documentation. Where such information is deficient such as in the case of a new process or where the risk associated with the activities are high a quantitative risk assessment is required. In this risk assessment method risk is given a numerical value by relating the probability of the risk occurring to the possible severity of the outcome (Hughes and Ferrett, 2003). Quantitative risk assessments methods such as Event Tree Analysis are carried out in the oil and gas industry to ascertain risk associated with for example the introduction of a new process.

Basic Steps to Risk Assessment

As previously stated there are no fixed rules about how a risk assessment is carried out (University of Bristol, 2010). According to the United Kingdom: Health and Safety Executive document entitled "Five Steps to Risk Assessment: however there are five basic steps in performing an occupation health and safety risk assessment. They are as follows:

Step 1: Identify the hazard

Step 2: Decide who might be harmed and how

Step 3: Evaluate the risk and decide on precautions

Step 4: Record your findings and implement them

Step 5: Review your assessment and update if necessary (HSE, 2006).

Step 1: Identifying Hazards

A hazard is the potential of a substance, activity or process to cause harm (HSE, 2006). There are four main types of hazard:

Physical - such as electrical hazards (frayed cords and improper wiring),

Biological - such as blood or bodily fluids, fungi, bacteria and viruses,

Ergonomic - such as poor lighting, improperly adjusted workstations and chairs, and

Chemical - such as solvents, welding fumes, acetylene and explosive chemicals (Ontario Ministry of Labour, 2010).

Sources for hazard identification can be:

Past incidents and accidents

Input by employees

Examining workplaces or work areas

Review of safety instruction for equipment and materials

Any kind of creative thinking such as brainstorming

Advice from legislation, standards, checklists or external consultants (Fiedler, 2004).

Step 2: Decide who might be harmed and how

To ensure that risk is effectively mitigated, for each hazard identified the potentially impacted group ("trainees") and how the group is impacted ("trainees may suffer injury from working unsupervised on equipment") must be stated (HSE, 2006).

To effectively accomplish this step the following groups should be given special interest:

Workers with particular requirements such as new employees and young persons, new or expectant mothers and people with disabilities.

Workers who may not be in the workplace all the time such as cleaners, visitors, contractors, maintenance workers.

Members of the public who might be harmed.

Other occupants of the workplace (HSE, 2006).

Step 3: Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions

Upon identifying the hazards the risks associated with these hazards must be assessed. Risk is typically assessed by its likelihood and its consequence.

The following aspects are helpful in determining the likelihood of a risk:

Other risks that add to the increase of likelihood

Frequency of occurrence

Duration of risk occurrence

Number of people being exposed

Likely dose of exposure

Required exposure levels

Accordingly the consequences have to be determined. With regard to property and environmental damage these consequences can be expressed in terms of money. Whenever people are harmed the consequences can be expressed in terms of seriousness of the illness or injury. This has further to be put in relation to who is harmed, especially people at a particular risk such as expectant mothers or young people.

The assessment of risk will provide the assessor with an understanding with regards to the scope of the risks in the workplace and allow for prioritization of risks for taking mitigation actions (Fiedler, 2004).

The likelihood and/or consequence of a risk can be reduced via the implementation of mitigation action. In implementing mitigation actions/controls the hierarchy of control must be consulted in order to ensure that the best possible measure is implemented for the situation. The hierarchy of control is a sequence of options which offers a number of ways to approach hazard control. When selecting hazard control options one starts at with the most desirable option at the top of the list and work your way down. The hierarchy of control is as follows:

Eliminate the hazard - remove hazardous electrical plant from the workplace.

If this is not practical, then:

Substitute the hazard with a lesser risk - use low voltage electrical plant.

If this is not practical, then:

Isolate the hazard - place hazardous electrical plant in enclosures with restricted access.

If this is not practical, then:

Use engineering controls - use RCDs (safety switches) to protect socket outlets which supply electrical plant.

If this is not practical, then:

Use administrative controls - perform regular inspection and tests on electrical plant and electrical installations and implement safe work practices, instruction and training.

If this is not practical, then:

Use personal protective equipment - use rubber mats, insulated gloves, eye protection, boots, and head gear (also to be used in conjunction with above measures) (Government of South Australia, 2007).

Step 4: Record your findings and implement them

Upon the completion of the risk assessment the findings of the assessment must be recorded. The assessment must also be suitable and sufficient. That is the risk assessment should identify the risks arising from or in connection with work and the level of detail appropriate to the risk (University of Bristol, 2010).

Based on level of risk associated with the identified hazard an action must also be developed, addressing high risk items first.

Step 5: Review your risk assessment and update if necessary

In order to ensure that the risk assessment remains accurate and up to date with the dynamic nature of most businesses the process should be repeated annually or when there is any change in the workplace which could result in the induction of a new hazard.

Why perform risk assessment?

Risk assessments are performed for legislative, economic and moral reasons. As indicated in the sections above risk assessment is an essential component of the safety management system. As such risk assessments are a statutory requirement in countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Trinidad and Tobago.

There has been an increasing sense of moral obligation to provide safety for employees and citizens worldwide. This is reflected by the establishment of numerous safety boards, organizations, associations and councils which have been formed independent of regulatory mandate or religious history. Many businesses have also developed safety programs which exceed statutory requirements although various issues may be involved in this decision making process, morality is an issue leaders often cite (Eckhardt, 2001).

The identification of risk and its mitigation are fundamental components of risk assessment. These measures in turn can reduce the occurrence and/or severity of an accident and by extension organizational costs. Conducting a risk assessment can therefore save an organization both the direct and indirect cost (which can be up to 36 times greater than direct cost) associated with an accident (Hughes and Ferrett, 2003).

Risk Assessment Factors

Based on the information provided in Sections 1 to 5 above the following factors have been identified as those to be considered in undertaking a risk assessment:

Type of risk assessment

Types of hazards present in the organization

Who might be harmed?

Probability of an accident occurring

Consequence i.e. severity of potential impact on people, assets, environment and reputation

Mitigation of risk

Suitable and sufficient risk assessment

Moral, economic and legal considerations

Competence of risk assessors

Accuracy of data or information

Historical data

Effect on organizational goals

Enforcement and penalties of the existing legal framework

The type of risk assessment performed is largely based on the type of hazard present in the organization, the level of risk (which is a function of the probability of an accident and consequence) associated with eth workplace activities and the availability of information and guidance documents.

To ensure efficient assertion of the level of risk associated with each hazard in an unbiased manner the risk assessment must be done by a competent person and based on accurate information and historical data where available. Accurate information, historical data and a competent risk assessor would also contribute geeatly to the development of a suitable and sufficient risk assessment.


Section 13A of the Trinidad and Tobago Occupational Safety and Health Act No. 1 of 2004 (as amended), here after referred to as the OSH Act, requires that every employer make a suitable and sufficient annual risk assessment.