The Importance of a Safety Risk Assessment

Forming an integral part of a good occupational health and safety plan, a safety risk assessment is significant in ensuring that employers take necessary preventative measures for the safety and health of their workers. Employers in each workplace, especially in the manufacturing, mining and construction industry where there is high potential for injury have a duty to protect their workers in every aspect related to their work.

It was reported that in 2010 and 2011, that the Department of Labour (DoL) paid over R 2.7 billion in compensation for injuries and diseases sustained in the workplace. DoL also stated in a conference aimed at improving workplace health and safety, that South Africa continues to be plagued by lack of adherence to Occupational Health and Safety.

With World Safety Day at work taking place on the 28th of April, Bongani Thobela SHEQ Manager at Rand-Air, the largest fleet of compressors and generators for hire in Southern Africa speaks to us about the necessary steps in a safety risk assessment.

Identify the hazards

“Key to a safety risk assessment is accurately ascertaining the potential hazards in the workplace. This will help you to define what measures you should take to protect the health and safety of your employees and any persons that enter your workplace. It is imperative that the measures that you put in place abide to legislative requirement.”

Evaluate the risks

“Evaluating the risks is a criteria that enables you to make informed decisions on the selection of work equipment, chemical preparations or substances used, the layout of the workplace and the organisation of work. Evaluating the risks also entails identifying the level of risk associated with the hazards. Although implementing necessary measures does not entirely eliminate risk, being aware of the risks and having the required steps in place to manage them is critical. Mitigating risks in the most cost effective way can be done by calculating the level of risk against the measures needed to control the risk.

Health and safety training

“Providing your employees with the right training ensures that they know how to work safely and without risk. If you create a positive culture for health and safety in the workplace, your employees and workers will learn to work in such a way that health and safety becomes second nature. The Health and Safety Act requires companies to inform, instruct, train and supervise workers to safeguard against risk.”

Monitoring and reviewing

Monitoring the program of risk assessment on a continuous basis enables you to assess regularly if you are up to date and compliant with new laws and regulations. It also allows you to identify and investigate better and more effective ways of eradicating risk.”

It is important to note that major injury due to the failure to comply with health and safety procedures has a major impact on the individual, your company and the economy. “Protecting your workers by providing a safe working environment is a commitment that no company should forget about or overlook,” concludes Thobela.

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