Identifying occupational health and safety risk assessment development needs in Finnish case companies
Authors: Minna Rantala, Maria Lindholm, Sari Tappura, Jouni Kivistö-Rahnasto
Abstract: Risk assessment is a key tool in occupational safety work at workplaces. A systematic risk assessment can be used to meet the statutory obligation to determine and assess the hazard and risk factors for the safety and health of employees in companies of all sizes. Furthermore, by developing risk assessments, workplaces can reduce accidents and improve the safety and healthiness of working conditions. Since a lot of time and resources are used for risk assessment at workplaces, the assessment should be efficient and successful. With risk assessment, companies can simultaneously improve job productivity and competitiveness and support the preservation of workers' ability to work. Previous studies have suggested that risk assessment development needs include, for example, the development of resourcing and improvement of communication, competence and knowledge. This study aims to produce knowledge of Finnish workplaces' risk assessment development needs related to safety and health at work in order to better meet the company's own needs. The material was acquired with a new questionnaire that aids organizations in finding out personnel's perceptions of the practices and development needs of occupational safety risk assessment. Based on the responses, development targets can be identified, and risk assessment skills in different parts of an organization can be compared. The questionnaire can be used to determine, for example, whether the objectives of risk assessment have been understood within an organization. The questionnaire includes both closed and open-ended questions. The open-ended questions clarify previous selections and for example, suggest ways to arrange training to an organization. The questionnaire was part of a larger project, and the questions were based on previous phases of the project. Four companies piloted the questionnaire. After receiving feedback, a few modifications were made. The process and methods of creating the questionnaire will be described in more detail in the article. The final questionnaire was sent to three organizations. The first is a part of a public organization, the second is a private company in the transport sector, and the third organization provides maintenance services for industrial companies. The companies' contact persons forwarded the link to the questionnaire respondents, and 348 responses were received. The results were analyzed both quantitatively and qualitatively. The revealed development needs generally concerned, among others, the planning of risk assessment, which includes for instance risk assessment goals and frameworks planned by the organizations. Regarding the definition of measures, the determination of risk assessment and management was raised. In addition, communication about the progress of the determined measures, going through the risk assessment with the employees, giving feedback to those conducting the assessment, and clearly documenting the results were among the identified development needs. Next, a practical model for workplaces to develop their occupational health and safety risk assessments will be developed.
Keywords: risk assessment, occupational safety, development needs, OHS, OSH
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