Assessing the Success of Risk Assessment and Factors Affecting Its Success
Authors: Minna Rantala, Maria Lindholm, Sari Tappura
Abstract: Even though risk assessment is an important factor in occupational health and safety (OHS) promotion and accident prevention, there are no clear definition of when the risk assessment is successful nor instructions on how to evaluate it. Inadequate risk assessments lead to ineffective safety prevention programs, inefficient use of resources, and criticism towards risk assessment. If decisions are based on misleading results, significant sources of risks are failed to eliminate or reduce.Certain factors have been recognized in the literature to affect the quality of a risk assessment, including initial assumptions, chosen method, risk assessment team, resources, and consultation and collaboration of relevant stakeholders. In evaluating the quality of risk assessment, it is suggested to examine the completeness, accuracy, fidelity, and fitness of the risk assessment results. Different approaches have been identified to be used in the evaluation, such as carrying out a parallel analysis of the system, comparing the results with occurring accidents in corresponding systems, and examining the process. This study aims to add knowledge of when a risk assessment is successful and which factors influence the success. The data was collected from OHS specialists and managers (n = 10) by interviewing them. In addition, the Delphi survey was emailed to 17 OHS specialists and managers resulting in 8, 12, and 13 responses in three rounds. The respondents represented four large companies (manufacturing, transportation and storage, and other technical testing and analysis), one medium-sized company (electrical power generation, transmission, and distribution), consulting business companies, and public authority. The interviews and the Delphi survey focused on when a risk assessment can be said to be successful and which individual and organizational features affect its success. According to the interviews, companies do not systematically evaluate the quality of the risk assessment or its success but rather control if the risk assessments are completed. However, they did acknowledge the importance and need for evaluating the risk assessment processes and results. Based on the Delphi survey, individual features affecting the risk assessment are, for example, understanding of the entity, communication and interaction skills, and understanding of the interdependencies. Organizational features influencing risk assessment include organization’s commitment to safety and safety management, risk assessment being a part of the safety management system, and line organization understanding its responsibilities and operating accordingly. Finally, a successful risk assessment fulfills, among others, the following points; the risk assessment represents reality, the results are utilized in planning and developing work tools, instructions and operations, the employees are aware of the residual risks and able to acknowledge them while working, the risk assessment is utilized in educational and orientation material, and that the measures have been focused and carried out so that the risk is removed or reduced. Further research is needed to formulate a model guiding the evaluation of the quality and success of risk assessment.
Keywords: Risk Assessment, Success, Success Factors
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