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How to identify hazards & risks in the workplace with a risk matrix

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During 2019-2020, Australians had 120,355 serious claims made to Safe Work Australia resulting in an average of $13,500 compensation being paid out per claim

While most everyday businesses are less likely to have workplace health and safety incidents leading to claims, businesses in high-risk environments, such as construction and industrial services, made up a vast majority of these claims.

The rise in proactive risk assessments in these industries is helping employers mitigate risks before they can become something more serious.

As such, risk assessments are becoming widely used as a proactive method of mitigating workplace and environmental hazards and risks before they can become incidents. Do you know how to perform one? 


What is a risk assessment?

A risk assessment is when an experienced workplace health and safety assessor is thoroughly looking through a workplace for risks that may cause harm to employees or the environment.

Hazard identification is completed during this assessment to analyse and evaluate how likely and severe the risks identified are. After the report is completed, there is a final decision of measures implemented to effectively eliminate or control harm from happening.


Why are risk assessments important?

A ‘risk’ is usually used to refer to the possibility of an injury or a negative outcome occurring. For example, low risk means a low likelihood of a negative outcome. On the other hand, a ‘hazard’ is a feature of a task or environment that may lead to injury or harm to a worker or visitor.

The purpose of risk assessment is to identify and manage hazards that can be measured by a risk matrix system. By reducing the likelihood of incidents to occur, there is less chance of harm or injury. All hazards need to be eliminated, isolated or controlled prior to an event occurring.


How to identify hazards in the workplace?

To ensure all hazards are found:

  • Look at all aspects of work in the area
  • Include non-routine activities such as maintenance, repair, or cleaning
  • Look at accident/incident/near-miss records
  • Include people who work off-site at home, other job sites, drivers, teleworkers, with clients, and so on
  • Look at the way the work is organised or completed (acknowledge the experience of people completing the work, systems used, etc)
  • Look at unusual conditions (e.g. possible impact on hazard control procedures that may be unavailable in an emergency situation, power outage, etc.)
  • Determine whether a product, machine or equipment can be intentionally or unintentionally changed (e.g. a safety guard that could be removed)
  • Review all phases of the life cycle
  • Examine risks to visitors or public
  • Consider the groups of people that may have a different level of risk such as young or inexperienced workers, disabilities, or expectant mother

Why is a risk matrix needed?

A risk matrix makes it easy to determine a consistent risk rating for each hazard. It's a helpful tool that combines the likelihood of an accident or incident occurring with the potential consequences. These ratings are transformed in a grading system from low, medium, high and extreme risks, for people to quickly understand the situation at hand.

Example of a risk matrix

How to make a risk assessment convenient & easy?

Identify all risks at the palm of your hand! All you need to do is select the activities associated with that project. Lucidity software will then find the connected risks and pull them together into a customised risk register.

Keeping a risk register gives you a standing advantage before undergoing your assessment so you're less likely to miss anything.