Development needs for risk assessment – A case study of five Finnish companies
Authors: Maria Lindholm, Minna Rantala, Sari Tappura
Abstract: To reach the zero accident goal and prevent accidents and injuries, and to fulfill regulatory requirements, risk assessment at work needs to be improved. If risk assessment is conducted with an unfit method or otherwise inadequately, it may lead to ineffective safety prevention programs, the inefficient use of resources and criticism towards risk assessment. In addition to the chosen method, initial assumptions, risk assessment team, resources, and consultation and collaboration of relevant stakeholders, among others, affect the quality of a risk assessment. If decisions are based on incomplete or false results, significant sources of risks are failed to eliminate or reduce which in turn leads to unsatisfactory safety levels. Previous studies have shown that certain hazards have been identified and managed less well than others.This study aims to add knowledge of factors affecting risk assessment and which aspects of the risk assessment need to be focused on in five Finnish companies. The companies represent industries from manufacturing, transportation and storage, electrical power generation, transmission and distribution, and other technical testing and analysis. Four of the companies are large and one is medium-sized, employing about 200 people. The data was gathered with semi-structured interviews (n = 41). The interviewees (n = 53) were a part of a risk assessment team or managers. In this study, the focus is on interview questions “What factors contribute to and weaken the implementation of the risk assessment?”, “What works or does not work in hazard and risk assessment?”, “How should risk assessment be developed?”, and “What is the next step in risk assessment development?”. The answers revealed that composition and activities of the team, resources and preparation to risk assessment, individual's attitude, and experience and knowledge were four most often mentioned themes both contributing and weakening the implementation of the risk assessment. The interviewees thought that plans and models for risk assessment, composition and activities of the team, daily activities, and preventing unsafe activity were currently working well in hazard and risk assessment while individual’s attitude, communication, risk assessment guidance, documentation and reporting, and resourcing were seen as not working properly. Developing the concerted way to act, developing the OHS software, training and guidance, communication, and comparing own’s risk assessment with others’ risk assessments were named as development targets. When asked about the next step in risk assessment development, the interviewees chose developing and improving competence and knowledge, resources, and communication as the first targets. The results indicate that certain themes such as the risk assessment team, individual’s attitude, experience and knowledge, resources, and communication emerged as themes affecting the risk assessment and needed development, regardless of the topic discussed. Further research is needed to specifically focus on these themes, to study their relations with risk assessment more deeply and to develop effective intervention programs.
Keywords: risk assessment, development needs, team, individual, resources
Cite this paper: