The rising influence of risk-based approaches and standards to developing and implementing a comprehensive risk management process is a critical paradigm shift in the occupational safety and health (OSH) profession.  The shift began some time ago as forward thinking OSH professionals began to notice trends in the injury data that signaled a flat line in fatality reduction and a slight uptick in serious injury occurrences. Also of concern was the fact that large organizations with deep pockets for OSH staffing and programs were recording very low (or zero) incident rates for less serious injuries, but were not immune from experiencing multiple fatalities or significant catastrophes. (Exxon, BP, DuPont) Finally investigations of significant incidents often revealed a failure to control obvious hazards or utilize commonplace safety practices (tying off at heights, locking out machinery before servicing, using protective shoring in trenches).

These combined observations led to a questioning of the efficacy of traditional compliance-based approaches to managing OSH programs and the eventual consensus that risk-based programs, based upon voluntary consensus standards, provide a superior approach. Most large organizations who have invested large sums of resources to implement these programs have reported the return on the investment to be good.  However, the majority of OSH professionals work for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) where resources are likely to be more limited, affecting the depth and breadth of the implementation of risk management. Or may even make the effort of starting to develop one seem daunting, if not impossible.

This workshop is designed to provide OSH professionals who work for SMEs of almost any size, the tools to right-size their risk management approach by breaking the ANSI/ASSE Z690-2011 (Risk Management) standards into manageable pieces. Through a series of lectures, discussion, and small group activities, participants will understand the key components of the right-sizing process, which include:

  • Becoming an expert on risk in their organization
  • Understanding of components of an effective risk management gap analysis
  • Identifying methods to engage senior management
  • Finding internal risk champions
  • Training internal risk assessment teams and leading them to success
  • Choosing risk assessment tools wisely and
  • Learning to quickly articulate their organization’s top five risks

Risk management has moved from being considered best practice to routine procedure in larger organizations.  And while OSH professionals in SMEs may aspire to replicate the process in their organizations, they may hesitate to begin the process due to beliefs about the intensity of the process and the need for extensive resources that may not be available.  They may also believe that they lack the skill set to lead the effort, and rightly so in some cases.  The result is that the SME is exposed to higher levels of risk that may not be necessary if the risk management framework can be right-sized.  This workshop will provide participants with a roadmap for implementing a risk-based approach.

Pam Walaski, CSP, CHMM
Director, Health & Safety
GAI Consultants, Inc.