There is a school of thought that thinks that Risk Management is all about common sense and situational awareness. This may be the case to a degree and I am sure we can all think of the occasional scenario when an incident could have been avoided if we had switched our head on a few seconds earlier but if that was all that was involved in Risk Management then why is there an entire institute dedicated to it?
What is Risk?
Risk is a part of all of our lives.
As Mary Poppins once said “In every task that must be done, there is an element of fun” What she should have actually been teaching Jane and Michael is that “In every task that must be done there is an element of risk, assess that risk and snap, the world is safe!” Probably wouldn’t have been quite so appealing to the target audience though!
Risk is inherent in everything we do, we need to take risks to grow, develop, function and survive but how that risk is managed is key.
What is Risk Management?
The purpose of risk management is to identify potential problems before they occur, thus allowing forward planning to mitigate adverse impacts on achieving objectives. The types of roles undertaken by risk professionals is incredibly diverse and include everything from Insurance to business continuity, Corporate Governance, Engineering, Financial Services and of course Health & Safety.
In order to monitor and implement risk management, there are a number of standards that have been developed worldwide. These standards work on a common framework and are probably things that you have heard of but may not have fully understood – ISO 31000 2009, for example, is the one that springs to my mind (oddly!).
More information can be found on risk management qualifications and standards on the Institute of Risk Management website which can be found here »
Safety Media develops health and safety risk management software which is designed to make the recording, reporting and storage of the crucial information gathered a safe, backed up and accessible so that will remain the focus of this article.
What does a health and safety risk management process look like?
An evolution is one way to describe it! Once upon a time there were no steps, then there were 4 steps, currently I believe there are 5 steps but as I said these things are evolving quickly. So as things currently stand:
Step 1 – Identify the risk
Step 2 – Analyze the Risk
Step 3 – Evaluate or Rank the Risk
Step 4 – Treat the Risk
Step 5 – Monitor and Review the Risk
Now imagine doing that for ALL of the hazards and risks you see around you…working for long periods in front of a computer, boiling a kettle, walking upstairs, lifting boxes of stationary, driving to see a client, reaching to hide your filing on the top shelf (or is that just me?!)…this becomes a MASSIVE undertaking but if your company is worth its salt someone has assessed every single one of those things for you so you don’t have to AND then taken steps to minimise the risk of an incident relating to them occurring or minimising the impact of the consequences should an incident actually occur!
It is worth mentioning that this Risk Process can be applied to all types of risk management but as Safety Media is Health and Safety focused that is what I am going to continue focusing on for this piece.
What are the benefits of being Risk Aware?
The aim of a successful risk management plan is to save money and protect the future of an organisation.
- Creates a safe and secure work environment for all staff and customers.
- Increases the stability of business operations while also decreasing legal liability.
- It provides protection from events that are detrimental to both the company and the environment.
- Protects all involved people and assets from potential harm.
- It helps establish the organisation’s insurance needs in order to save on unnecessary premiums.
What are the limitations of Risk Management?
Implementing any risk management system can involve a lot of stakeholders and data collection which initially can be quite a time-intensive exercise.
The level of expertise required to accurately analyse the information is extensive. Computer software programmes have been developed to aid this process but while cost-effective these programmes still require comprehensive skills and knowledge in order to accurately understand and act upon the generated results.
Having a robust risk strategy cannot quantify or regulate every risk as quite simply it is impossible to expect the unexpected. Risk calculations can also only be applied based on historical data so new offices, situations, products etc will require flexibility when the model is applied.
Cumulative risk can often be ignored as people fail to see the bigger picture which can also lead to longer-term issues.
Is this just for the big boys?
The simple answer is no. Organisations of all sizes should be risk-aware and proactive in the management of their risk profiles.
If opting to implement risk management software to aid with this then the appropriateness of the software must be assessed in line with the need. For example, Risk Management Software in a Legal Firm would have very different requirements to Risk Management Software in a Manufacturing plant.
What to do to get started?
If you are in the beginning stages of putting a risk management plan in place or you feel your current system needs to be updated, or even if you are simply curious about how your current methods stack up against the other options then get in touch! Safety Media offers built for purpose health and safety risk management software and Riliance offers a suite specific to the Legal world – both are market leaders and both are owned by The Access Group, therefore meaning you can be sure they are genuinely the best in their field!
Written by Claire Williams, Divisional Marketing Manager, The Access Group
Related Reading: Risk Assessment Essentials