Effective leaders and line managers know the risks their organisations face, rank them in order of importance and take action to control them.
A risk profile examines the nature and levels of threats faced by an organisation. It examines the likelihood of adverse effects occurring, the level of disruption and costs associated with each type of risk and the effectiveness of the control measures in place.
The risk profile of an organisation informs all aspects of the approach to leading and managing its health and safety risks.
Every organisation will have its own risk profile. This is the starting point for determining the greatest health and safety issues for the organisation. For some organisations, the health and safety risks will be tangible and immediate safety issues, e.g. machine guarding, whereas in other organisations, the risks may be health-related and it could be a long time before the illness becomes apparent. Degrading plant integrity could also lead to later emerging risks.
Health and safety risks also range from things that happen very infrequently but with catastrophic effects (high-hazard, low-frequency events, such as an oil refinery explosion) to things that happen much more frequently but with lesser consequences (low-hazard, high-frequency events).
Clearly, the high-hazard, low-frequency example could destroy the business and would be high-priority in a risk profile.
A risk profile examines:
- the nature and level of the threats faced by an organisation
- the likelihood of adverse effects occurring
- the level of disruption and costs associated with each type of risk
- the effectiveness of controls in place to manage those risks
The outcome of risk profiling will be that the right risks have been identified and prioritised for action, and minor risks will not have been given too much priority. It also informs decisions about what risk controls measures are needed.
An organisations leader(s) should maintain an overview of the risk profiling process, ensuring they are aware of the major risks within their organisations, that minor risks have not been given too much priority and that major risks have not been overlooked.
Managers should review the organisation’s risk profile regularly. Change within the organisation will affect the risk profile, e.g. during economic cycles such as recession and recovery, when there is an increase in workload, or when experience levels drop. They should also ensure that workers understand the organisation’s risk profile and have the necessary information, instruction and training to deal with the risks that have been identified.