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Risk Management: An Essential Foundation

5th October 2020

Risk management is the foundation on which Carbon Safety Solutions was built.

As many of my clients and colleagues know, Carbon Safety Solutions was founded on the principle that risk management is the backbone of business and safety.

In my opinion failing to adequately identify, assess, and manage risk (both for business and safety related opportunities and challenges) at the start up, and during growth can be a recipe for disaster, and allow for the construct of systems on a shaky foundation.

Risk Management A Foundational Backbone

From a business, and human health and safety perspective, risk management is a foundational requirement.

The company name Carbon Safety Solutions comes from my appreciation for the critical role carbon plays in most known life, and equally the role that risk management plays in the success of healthy and safe workplaces and businesses.

Carbon and risk management are essential foundations to build on.  Carbon for life as we know it, and risk management for business and safety as we know it.

Our Carbon Safety Model focuses on risk management as foundational for safety, identifying risk first, and then assessing it, and building out structure, and opportunities to mitigate or eliminate it from there.

Some organizations aren’t yet ready to look at risk from a more proactive, and opportunistic perspective but  our Carbon Safety Model is.

Carbon Safety focuses on the more proactive approach of incident prevention over reaction as I discussed in a blogpost last year.

Built Off A Risk Based Standard

A relatively recent article in Occupational Health and Safety magazine focuses on the adaptation of the risk management based standard ANSI/ASSP Z10 in late 2019 to specifically include Industrial Hygiene, and a stronger focus on health.

I have spent many years implementing, and auditing continual improvement, and risk management based programs such as the ISO series of standards, and have incorporated many of these requirements into the Carbon Safety Model.

As a result, I fully appreciate this revision and the clarity that risk management is a foundational element of the standard, and that health and safety need to go beyond just physical risk.  Wellness in the workplace is essential to business success.

The Risk Of Our Version And Vision

Carbon Safety has developed a safety model that uses risk management as a foundation to develop a safety program.  The model uses a specific structure modelled after the Plan Do Check Act and William Haddon’s Energy-Harm models of safety management.

We are currently taking a bit of a risk ourselves in developing a new tool, and hoping current and future clients get value from it.  We are working on an online version of our Carbon Safety Model.

Below is an overview for those new to our model.  It breaks down the risk management based approach we use, and provides a high level overview of the four phases we use to build a risk management based safety program.

The benefits we see in our Carbon Safety Model, are benefits that most safety programs using risk management as a foundation will also see.

1st Phase – Assessing Culture, Structure, and IBC’s

Carbon Safety’s model focuses first and foremost on identifying where the organization is placed with it’s current management of safety.  This requires the assembly of a collaborative team from a cross section of organizational areas.

The team reviews what aspects of a safety management are in place, what safety culture exists, and what interventions, barriers and other controls (IBC’S) are being used?

What works, and what needs improvement?

2nd Phase – Understanding Energy/Harm And Targets In Risk Management

Once the existing safety landscape of the organization is understood, the model focuses on identifying two key components required to good risk management.

  • What are the sources of harm, or energy?
  • Who or what are the targets that are exposed to the sources of harm or energy.

Reviewing these two components allows us to start cataloguing risk data for later analysis to determine the degree of risk associated with energy/harm and targets.

Identification of opportunities to introduce new, or amended interventions, barriers, and other controls are noted and captured for review in the next phase to develop separations of space, physical barriers, or time between the targets, and sources of energy and harm.

3rd PHASE – Reasonable Expectations, IBC’s, And Definitions of Safety and Knowledge

The next step focuses on considering how to define safety (how does the team and organization interpret the word and concept?).

What aspects of safety will be considered (risk to respiratory and other human health systems, mental health, physical safety, environmental safety, spiritual wellbeing?).

What reasonable expectations should be set for and by key stakeholders?

At this point, safety should be understood and defined, and risk can be identified by further discussing tasks, and activities with the team, and risk cataloguing can be incorporated as the foundation of the safety program to:

  • Review and identify existing, and foreseeable hazards
  • Analyze and assess individual hazard, and collective risk levels
  • Review and implement interventions, barriers, and other controls to mange the risk
  • Safety training to provide adequate awareness and knowledge to monitor and manage identified risks down to tolerable levels

Phase 4 – Adaptation – Internal/External Risk Management

The last phase simply looks for areas where internal or external influences may have positive or negative influences on the organizations safety.

Where can these areas be identified, how can the organization best adapt to positively respond to their potential influences on organizational safety?

Benefits of A Risk Management Based Foundation

The use of a risk management based model such as the Carbon Safety Model as a foundation for your safety program or management system can provide a number of benefits:

  • Identification of what is working well for the organization from a risk management perspective and what needs improvement
  • Identification of who may be harmed or where there may be loss
  • Provides structure and data to help define safety, and safety related knowledge and expectations
  • Helps identify, monitor, prepare for, and adapt to influential changes
  • Any incidents that occur while using a risk based foundation are more likely to already be identified via the risk management process
  • Effective controls should lower the potential or actual consequences of known and foreseeable hazards
  • Incidents that involved reasonably unknown, or unforeseen hazards can now be analyzed and managed

Using a collaborative, risk management based foundation for safety in the workplace helps identify real sources of harm or loss, and create a functional safety framework.

I believe it also helps to increase the logic and understanding of the relationship between work related hazards and risk and the safety program, and provide a safer work environment for workers.

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