Basics of a Risk Assessment

Better not to take any risks

[Translate to Englisch:] Bananenschale

Is that even possible?

Let us assume a risk assessment, or more precisely: the risk analysis at your workplace has shown that your work is risky and that there is a risk of an accident or an occupational illness. What now?

Now it is time to consider whether there is a risk. In order for a hazard to become a concrete hazard, the source of the hazard must coincide with you in terms of space and time. Risk is the combination of the probability of an event occurring and the possible severity of damage or illness.

In many cases there are limit values or so-called workplace limit values that can be measured directly. These include, for example, noise exposure, radiation dose, temperature, humidity, etc.

[Translate to Englisch:] Risikoermittlung nach DGUV

The accident insurance funds provide numerous tools, for example to calculate the effects of carrying or lifting loads or the workplace noise limits. Noise level measurements can also be carried out by us, i.e. occupational safety.

In these cases, measurements can be used to determine precisely whether there is a risk or not. But what does it look like if an exposure cannot be measured?

Risk assessment

[Translate to Englisch:] Risikomatrix nach NOHL (Quelle: DGUV)

As the title already says: The risk must or can only be assessed. A lot of gut feeling and experience is required.

But here, too, there is a tool: the so-called risk matrix.

As described in the introduction, this table compares the probability of occurrence with the possible severity of a loss. At the points of intersection, a score can then be read, or the colours green, yellow and red can be used to determine whether no measures are necessary (green), whether measures should be considered (yellow) or whether there is even an immediate need for action (red).

Example: Air travel

Let's assume you are travelling by plane: as long as you are not sitting in it, nothing can happen (the source of danger, the plane, must coincide with you in space and time). When you take off, the plane must crash to cause damage. The example is extreme, but illustrates the proportionality. The probability of a crash is extremely low (aircraft are considered the safest means of transport). However, the consequence, i.e. the damage caused by a crash, would be fatal.

Now you weigh up and ask yourself: "Do I accept the risk? Have you ever asked yourself this question before a flight?

There's no such thing as no risk. Taking no risks is impossible. The risk is either very low, medium or high, or everything in between.

The aim of modern occupational safety is to keep the risk as low as possible and, if necessary, to reduce it to an acceptable level.