General Risk Assessments (task based)
Task based risk assessment is a method for systematically examining a job to identify hazards, evaluate the risks and specify appropriate safeguards. Task based risk assessments are normally a team based exercise whereby employees familiar with the task assist the assessor in producing the document risk assessment. Involving employees and safety representatives in the risk assessment process is a highly effective way of identifying hazards and developing solutions that work.
Risk assessments demonstrate that due regard for employees health and safety at work have been given appropriate consideration. The risk assessment process requires either acceptance of a satisfactory level of risk, or actions to control and reduce risk further.
So what is the first step is to identify the task that you need to identify?
You need to establish what is actually done. This may seem self-evident. However, experience indicates that this is not always as easy as many infer. Observation and scrutiny may reveal that workers complete a task in entirely a different method than is indicated from the working procedures, purely because they have found that their own approach works best, requires less exertion or is faster. Alternatively, it may be that they have found ways to negate with a specific problem or event that has not been formally identified and assessed.
So you need to visit the work location and view the task to determine what really takes place. Note that you will often need to observe the whole task, since merely watching part you may miss important events that could be significant to your risk assessment findings. You will also need to ask questions to ensure that you are aware of events or factors not apparent at the time which, however, may also influence the risk assessment findings. Questions such as: “Does it ever get at clogged or "How do you clear excess material?” can reveal aspects of possible exposures or injuries that you might otherwise not identify.
Note: a risk assessment is not necessarily something precise, since it deals with uncertainty, namely the possibility of an event occurring that could result in a worker being exposed to possible damage to health. A further uncertainty is the estimation of the assessor as to whether such exposure could result in damage to health and the significance of such damage
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