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Risk assessment

What is this anyway?

Hazardous ... what?

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The term "risk assessment" is actually self-explanatory: You have to assess (somehow) whether there are risks for employees* during an activity, i.e. whether there is a risk of damage to health, and if so, which ones.

But that's not all: Because even if you now know that an activity involves dangers - you just can't go on like this, of course. Measures are needed to reduce a risk or to limit it to a minimum.

But how is that supposed to work? Stop working? Then there is no risk. Of course this is not a solution either.

The legislator in the Occupational Health and Safety Act already offers us a first approach. That is only fair, because it also obliges us, after all, to carry out a risk assessment.

§ 5, ArbSchG

(1) The employer shall determine which occupational health and safety measures are necessary by assessing the risks to employees associated with their work.
(2) The employer shall carry out the assessment according to the nature of the activities.
(3) A hazard may arise in particular from
1. the design and furnishing of the workplace and the place of work,
2. physical, chemical and biological agents,
3. the design, selection and use of work equipment, in particular working materials, machines, equipment and installations, as well as their handling,
4. the design of work...procedures, work processes and working time and their interaction,
5. inadequate qualification and instruction of employees,
6. mental stress at work.

Wait a minute...

It says, "The employer..."

Well, good point! That's right, but our employer is the state of Baden-Württemberg. Why you ultimately have to carry out the risk assessment lies in the -> transfer of duties.

The bad news is: There is no opt-out! This means that as the person responsible, you cannot reject the transfer of duties.

So far, so good ... and now?

We now know why and we know about what, or rather we have heard something about "factors" or "dangers".

But what exactly these hazards or hazard factors are and how to determine them is not there. This will be explained on the following pages.

The procedure

The exact nature of a risk assessment is not specified. There is plenty of scope for creativity. This is also desired, because this is the only way to actively deal with the topic and not simply work it off without thinking a lot according to "Scheme F".

For the procedure, however, a scheme has proven itself which is often referred to as "the steps of the risk assessment". This procedure is logically structured and contains all the important steps required to produce a very good and effective risk assessment.

In practice, 7 steps have become established. They are often found in the form of 2 alternatives which, however, hardly differ in content.

The 7 steps - 2 common alternatives

1. Define activity or work area
What are you looking at?

2. Identification of the hazards,
that may occur during the activity

3. Risk assessment
a health hazard

4. Identification of measures,
to reduce the risk

5. Implementation of appropriate measures
Do the measures make sense?

6. Impact monitoring
And are they effective?

7. Documentation and updating
Are workflows changing or do measures to improve effectiveness need to be adapted?

1. Analysis
Identification of hazards

2. Evaluation
Are there any risks and how big are they?

3. Objective
What do you want to achieve and by when?

4. Identification of measures,
to reduce the risk

5. Selection of appropriate measures
Which measures can be implemented?

6. Implementation of the solution
Application of the measures

7. Effectiveness control
Are workflows changing or do measures to improve effectiveness need to be adapted?

An (eternal) cycle

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As you may have noticed, this is a cycle: Because the game practically starts all over again with the effectiveness check and the update. In this way it is guaranteed that the assessment and the measures required as a result are in line with and adapted to the constantly changing working environment conditions and that the risk assessment is always up to date.

How often?

Well... not always, but more and more!

You decide yourself how often. Ideally whenever there are significant changes. New employees, new workflows, new tools, new working environment, etc. -> New risk assessment!