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Introduction

Risk assessment is a step employed by employers to protect its business and workers whilst, conforming with the law (Roughton, 2002). If a workplace is properly managed, it offers a safe and healthy environment for its workers. It is the obligation of the employer to identify risks and employ measures to reduce them. According to the law, the employer should perform a risk assessment to ensure their employees are not exposed to risks (Sherriff &Tooma, 2010). This means, eliminating the hazards that can put employees at risk. This paper aims at giving a critical analysis of risks. 

Risks

            Risk is a term used universally and different meanings have been attached to it. The term  refers to the likelihood that an action or activity will lead to harmful effects to people, property and the environment. This means that, a choice with a swat on the consequence subsists. Probable losses can also be considered as losses. All actions by people carry a particular level of risk with some being riskier than others. For instance, the manner a risk relates to prospect is dependent on the context from which it is being viewed. An occurrence can either present a potential for loss and an opportunity for gain or the potential for loss only (Sutton, 2010).  

            Risks are classified into hazard risks and speculative risks. Speculative risks have the probability to present gain thus enhancing the present status quo. Simultaneously, they also present a probability of experiencing loss leaving one worse than the present status (Kenett & Raanan, 2011). An example of a speculative risk is gambling whereby one has to weigh the probability of realizing a gain or incurring a loss. The sole aim of the game is to make money. Hence money has to be put at risk for an opportunity to gain more money. Hazard risk on the other hand, only presents the probability of losses (Kenett & Raanan, 2011). This means that it offers no chance to improve from the present situation and status quo.

Sources of risk

            The sources of risk are either external or internal to the target or system (Manuele, 2011). The most common sources of risk are the stakeholders of a project, workers of a business or the weather over the risk target or system for instance an airport. When stakeholders withdraw from a project while it is still underway, this will jeopardize the funding of the scheme (Manuele, 2011). Similarly, the employees of an organization can steal information from it, thus exposing it to risk. Lastly, if the weather is not conducive for instance, if lightning strikes an aircraft while taking off, it may result in death and severe injuries.  

Elements of risk

            There are four elements of risk namely;

Context

This refers to the background, environment or situation the risk is being perceived. Additionally, it defines the activities and settings pertinent to the situation. This means that, if an appropriate context is not set, it is hard to determine the actions, consequences and conditions to include in the evaluation of risk and management activities (Blokdijk, 2007). Therefore, context provides the ground on which the consequences of a risk are analyzed.

 

 

Action

This is the second element of risk. Action is the occurrence or an act that prompts risk. It is an important aspect of risk which is combined with other conditions for a risk to occur (Blokdijk, 2007). Action activates all kinds of risk, and without it there is no probability of risk.

Conditions

            Condition is the passive element of risk. It defines the present state and condition that can result to risk occurrence. When a condition is combined with a prompting action, it results to a set of outcomes.

Consequences

This is the last element of risk. It refers to the probable results or set of consequences of an action combined with particular condition(s).

Risk Assessment

Risk assessment refers to the identification of the forms of hazard in a workplace and the probable harm the hazards may cause on employees (Kemshall. & Pritchard, 1997). It is one of the features of the systematic process of safety and health. All employers are mandated to carry out a risk assessment at their workplaces so as to ensure a healthy and safe working environment. However, in order to achieve, the consent of the workers is equally important. The employer should incorporate an employees’ understanding and knowledge of the occupation into the process. This is to mean that, a risk assessment should comprise all the aspects of job operations including the working of the employees and the probable risks in the workplace (Kemshall. & Pritchard, 1997). The justification of risk assessment in a business is to provide the employer with an opportunity to rate and categorize the preventive and control mechanisms deemed right (Haimes, 2009). It is a requirement by the law for employers to carry out a risk assessment. The law does not demand that employers eliminate all risks. However, it necessitates that an employer protects his employees in a reasonably possible manner.

Importance of risk assessment

Performing a complete risk assessment process helps a firm identify the potential risks it is susceptible to, and the degree of damage they can cause. This is so as to determine the relevant steps to control the risks  and damage (Blokdijk, 2007). Risk assessment gives an understanding of how the business will be affected by a risk occurrence. To this effect, it helps rate and categorize the recovery plans on the basis of the importance of the functions.

A crucial function of the risk assessment process is to identify the potential circumstances of a hazard as well as, the recovery steps to be followed by a firm to restore calm. It is a challenging task to list out disasters. For the list to be comprehensive, it requires constant updating. To handle this effectively, an employer needs to use an all inclusive tool that covers the types of hazards. 

Additionally, risk assessment performs the role of thinking through the losses. This means that it handles the destruction of the lifeline of a business (Blokdijk, 2007). Risk assessment assists the business analyze the degree of damage and determine the steps to be followed to minimize the risk.  

 

 

Types of risk assessment

The qualitative risk assessment model

This is a procedure of analyzing the effects of the factors of the determined risk. The process categorically determines the probable risk factors on the basis of its outcome. A characteristic feature of this process is the application of subjective indexes, for example, ordinal hierarchy such as benchmark, high-medium-low and vital-critical-important just to mention a few (Lerche & Walter, 2006).

The quantitative risk assessment model

            Quantitative risk assessment is used to obtain numerical results that portray the potentiality of every risk factor, its impacts on the goals of the project, as well as the risks to the whole project (Lerche & Walter, 2006). This assessment model uses the Monte Carlo method to determine the possibility of attaining a goal, quantify risk of the project and determine extra costs necessary to the project.

Risk assessment processes

There are five steps to risk assessment.

Identify the hazards

The first step is to determine potential threats in the workplace. The employer should determine whether the risks are short or long-term. In the identification of the possible threats, the employer should seek the views of its workers and representatives.

 

Establish who and how people may be harmed

            Before a risk is managed, it is important to identify the affected people, as well as determine how they have suffered injuries.

Risk evaluation and precautionary measures

            At this stage, the employer should work in a reasonably feasible way. However, to make the process easier, determine what the industry perceives as good practice. Precautions are easily matched with risks if a workplace is compared to good practice benchmarks.

Record and implement the findings

            It is important to record the results of a risk assessment and share the records with the employees. This is because the employees will have an insight of the changes and  are likely to support them.

Review and update the assessment

            Risk assessments should be reviewed annually. In addition, a risk assessment should be revised if there is a remarkable change to possible harmful process.

Risk scoring systems

Risk management methods include the calculation of a numerical value for the risk that is based on combined simple scales. These scales are based on ordinal classifications and comparisons (Sutton, 2010). The likelihood factors are assigned numbers in a manner reflecting the order of the factors on a main attribute scale. Risk scoring systems are meant to determine the probability of risk occurrence, time frame and impact score (Sutton, 2010). It ranks the ranks the risk in accordance to their scores.

Types of risk scoring system

Additive scores

In this system, a number of independent factors are calculated and added together. This system is mostly used to analyze the risks of investments, projects and policies just to mention a few.

Multiplicative scores

Comprises of the scores with two or more factors that are multiplied together. The two factors used are probability and consequence.

Controls of risk

Risk control entails application of systematic measures to prevent a risk from occurring. To this effect, companies should perform risk assessments to identify the possible risks and determine the preventive measures to apply in case of a risk occurrence on the basis of the extent of the risk and the operating environment. Controlling risks ensures that a company does not incur losses in terms death or property (Alexander & Sheedy, 2005).

Elimination

            This entails removing a risk from the work place. This is the most efficient way of risk control as it removes the risk form the picture. According to scholars, it is the used measure of controlling risks.

Engineering control

            It includes the modifications of equipment, plants, ventilation systems and procedures to minimize exposure to risk. This is the most efficient measure to employee exposures if controls are modified, maintained and used appropriately. The major types of engineering controls include, process control, ventilation and separation of source of emission. 

Administrative control

            It entails the controls that change how work is carried out. That is, the timing, procedures of work, rules and regulations, as well as standards and practices. Administrative controls restrict exposure of employees to harmful chemicals. This is because the risk is not eliminated but reduced. This is not a highly preferred method as its hard to enforce and maintain.

Protective equipments

            This is the equipment worn by a worker to minimize exposure to risks such as noise and exposure to chemicals. In addition, maintaining personal hygiene can also minimize the amount of harmful materials ingested, absorbed or inhaled by the employee. Personal hygiene practices are most effective if the harmful materials accumulate on skin and clothing. Such hygiene practices include washing hands, not storing harmful substances with food items and not touching one’s skin with contaminated hands (Alexander & Sheedy, 2005).

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