chapter 6

continual risk assessment.

 

Echoing some of our previous chapters, so much depends on reliable, consistent communications when it comes to anticipating, identifying and managing risk before it leads to employee illness or injury. A top-notch safety culture is one where both leaders and workers understand the behaviors and conditions that improve safety outcomes, and feel empowered to proactively create a safer future. As a safety leader (also known as “anyone in a position to influence safety on the behalf of another”), it should be your goal to communicate these strong messages. The alternative — missing out on this opportunity to communicate the right messages — still sends a message, but it winds up being the wrong one.

safety leader: anyone in a position to influence safety on the behalf of another person. this means everyone.

carry out in-depth incident investigations

When incidents do occur, how organizations respond matters greatly. The investigations must be thorough, but not be conducted with the bias and assumption that the issue is due to employee error. In today’s environment, where COVID-19 is such a highly contagious event, the response and processes between joint-employers must include uniform adherence to CDC and OSHA guidelines, along with quick communications around quarantining, and careful evaluation of each at-risk exposure and mitigating controls like enhanced cleaning, sanitation or isolation practices. Once again, we find ourselves recognizing the critical importance and value of a collaborative partnership between the host employer and the staffing agency. Post-incident response should include at least a precursory review of the classification of the hazard and prioritization of risk controls as it relates to those hazards (think: hierarchy of controls).

3 factors to consider when classifying and prioritizing risks

  • The severity of the potential outcome:
    • Based on the hierarchy of controls, do we have the correct mitigation and controls in place? Do we need to reevaluate?
  • The likelihood of an event or exposure occurring:
    • If error is predictable, how are we anticipating these events as a team?
  • How many employees are at risk:
    • Does leadership and the workforce understand the nature of risk as it applies to SIF?
      • It doesn’t matter how many/few employees are involved if risk is high. Control the risk at the highest level possible in the hierarchy of controls if there is Serious Injury/Fatality (SIF) exposure, regardless of the number of employees involved.
    • Have density of work cells, proximity and risks from both physical and biological conditions been factored in?

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