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Managing risk is a fundamental building block to any successful Health and Safety programme and to successfully achieve this, employers need to engage with their Workers to Identify, Assess, Control and Review Risk; with focus on continuous improvement of Health and Safety. This includes ensuring a mentally and physically safe and healthy workplace; and promoting a positive Health and Safety Culture.

Now, you may be rolling your eyes a bit at this stage as this all of this sounds like a bit of a mouthful, and you might be thinking “Isn’t it just common sense”?


People can get quite tied up in knots about how to identify and assess risk when it is really quite simple. Without realizing it, we all identify, assess, manage and review risk every single day.  Every time I get in the car and hit traffic, I subconsciously check the condition of my car and fuel, look at road conditions and other drivers, think about how I feel, drive appropriately, and talk about ‘The Traffic’ when I get to my destination. 

Another example is those with young children, when you see your eight year old son trying to somersault his mountain bike backwards while going over a jump that has been put in the middle of a public road. You assess and manage that risk fairly quickly then educate on the possible consequences.  You then spend the rest of the day making sure they do not sneak off to the school to do it there.

As a basic Rule of Thumb, I remember a company asking their Employees three questions:

  1. What can hurt you?
  2. How can it hurt you?
  3. What can you do to stop it hurting you?

If you add into the mix:

  1. How likely is it to hurt you? (Likelihood)
  2. What will happen if it does? (Consequence)

If you do this before and after the solution, you have suddenly identified, assessed and hopefully reduced the level of risk. And during the assessment process you should also be able to identify any training and equipment requirements, emergency procedures, communication requirements etc, (suddenly you are putting together a basic Safety Management System!!)


For High Risk tasks, you will monitor performance more often, and for low risk tasks less; providing feedback and updating procedures as required.

The key for this working is (as stated at the beginning of this blog), is engaging with the relevant Workers – whether they be Employees, Contractors or Volunteers.  They need to have input and buy-in because no matter what you do, and how you think they should be working, circumstances can vary when carrying out tasks. And you rely on your Workers to carry out dynamic risk assessments and discuss Health and Safety where they are concerned for their own and when others’ safety may be at risk.

Feel free to download this copy of our Risk Assessment Flow Chart for your reference.

Risk, assessment, flow chart, management, identify, controls, hazard, records, responsibilities

If you have any questions relating to identifying and managing risk, please give us a call on 0800 023789 or email us at info@allaboutpeople.co.nz.

See our website for more on our 8 Principles.

Craig Macdonald, All About People Director Special Operations

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