Tuesday, October 13, 2015

An Overview of Risk Assessment: A New Dimension in Construction Safety Management?

On Thursday, Nov. 12 at the ASSE Symposium for Construction Safety in New Orleans, LA, Kenneth Daigle, director of safety at BP will present “An Overview of Risk Assessment: A New Dimension in Construction Safety Management?” as part of the symposium’s track on risk assessment and prevention through design.

Daigle will discuss hazards in the construction industry and the risk assessment involved. He will also explain ways to identify hazards during construction and different methods of finding hazards that may not be quite as obvious. These are important concepts for safety professionals to know because they are “one of the areas that most safety professionals do not get formal training on very often coming out of school. Most university curriculums do not include a lot of discussion of risk, application and tools,” he explains.

With risk assessment, various approaches and measures have proven effective. “We use a variety of tools. Some of them are looking back at past incident history to identify the sources of potential events,” Daigle says. “We use a checklist of energy sources. We go through a list of things like gravity, mechanical equipment, moving parts, things like that. You use these guidewords to help you identify where hazards come into play during a construction activity.”

When it comes to communicating risks to executives and frontline workers each day on the work site, Daigle offers a dual perspective. “It is not one size fits all. You have to tailor the communication style and content to the audience,” he notes. “For the leaders, typically, you have to describe it like a value proposition. Most of the time when you are managing risk, you are talking loss prevention or avoidance.”

For frontline workers, the communication is a bit different. “They are most often exposed to the hazard or the consequence. Their interest is really now that you have identified the risk, how you are controlling it, he explains. “It is less of a theoretical discussion with the frontline workers and just communicating to them the details of what is in place and why it is important and how it protects you and your role in these things working.”

Daigle offers tips for OSH professionals looking to become better at the risk assessment process. “There are two different areas. One is immersing in the concepts and being familiar in the terminology and applications. It is a bit of developing personal competency in the tools that are available to do risk assessment,” he says. “The other piece is around communication and tailoring the message from everyone from the frontline to the senior leaders within an organization so they can use the results successfully.”