OH&S Risk Assessment is NOT a Single Process

| August 29, 2008

One of the requests I commonly get from organizations seeking to integrate occupational health and safety into an existing environmental management system is –

“Can you provide a generic risk assessment process I can just plug into my aspect/impact procedure?”

The short answer to this request is “No.”

This is the fundamental difference between the OHSAS 18001 and the ISO 14001 standards.  To conform to ISO 14001, many organizations have a single aspect/impact evaluation process.  It may be complex and involve several factors and complicated calculations but it is typically one process.  This is not the case for OHSAS 18001 hazard identification and risk assessment.

To quote from the OHSAS 18002 guidance –

Hazard identification and risk assessment methodologies vary greatly across industries, ranging from simple assessment to complex quantitative analyses with extensive documentation.  Individual hazards may require that different methods be used, e.g. an assessment of long term exposure to chemicals may need a different method than that taken for equipment safety or for assessing an office workstation.  Each organization should choose approaches that are appropriate to its scope, nature and size, and which meet its needs in terms of detail, complexity, time, cost and availability of reliable data.  Taken together, the chosen approaches should result in a comprehensive methodology for the ongoing evaluation of the organization’s risk.

In other words – there is no simplistic answer or cookie-cutter methodology.  It is not one process but several that, when taken together, make up a comprehensive risk management strategy.

© ENLAR® Compliance Services, Inc. (2008)

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Category: FAQ, Risk Management

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