Analysis and assessment of occupational risks

After the classification of the activities developed in the company, the risks associated with the work area must be identified. The objective of this process is to estimate the hazards and risks inherent in the productive activity, detailing the probability and consequences of occurrence.

The National Institute for Safety and Hygiene at Work in Spain (INSHT) establishes that the assessment of occupational risks is the process aimed at estimating the magnitude of those risks associated with work activity that could not be avoided, obtaining the necessary information to identify what are the preventive measures that must be adopted to reduce them.

According to the INSHT, the risk assessment process consists of the following stages:

I. Identification of hazards: Not all jobs have the same risk factors, this will depend on the place and the task performed. The hazards can be cataloged as follows:

  • Physical (energy): are those that occur as a result of direct contact that has the worker with external physical agents such as: work surface, noise and vibration, lighting and radiation
  • Chemicals: are those produced by direct contact with chemicals such as: Solid: fibers, metals and powders. Liquids: solvents, acids and bases. Gases and Vapors: flammable and toxic.
  • Biologicals: are those that occur as a result of direct or indirect contact that the worker has with organic elements such as: bacteria, parasites, virus, organic fabrics, mushrooms and animals contaminated
  • Ergonomically: are those that occur as a result of mismanagement of machines and tools, as well as those incurred as a consequence of poor posture that the worker can acquire to carry out their work, they may be related to: the relationship between man and his process, design and location of work or equipment, distance between the user and the equipment and work surface
  • Psychosocial: are those that occur as a result of the conditions present in a work situation, they have the ability to affect the development of work and health of workers, may be: problem of social, economic environment, work and family; stress, anxiety and depression

This identification is made through measurements, analysis or tests deemed necessary, except in the case of facilities, activities or processes in which direct observation of accredited professionals allows reliable conclusions.

II. Risk assessment: every possible hazard identified as risk must be estimated by determining the potential severity of damage in relation to and the probability of the event occurring.

Source: National Institute of Safety and Health at Work in Spain.

III. Risk Valuation:Risk levels indicated in the table above, serve to prioritize enforcement actions and measures to improve existing controls or implementation of new accident prevention plans, this way safe environments can be created with standards and safety equipment in line with production needs. Then the actions of execution and measurement are explained by the level of risk identified:

  • Trivial Risk:No specific action is required.
  • Tolerable risk:No need to improve preventive action, however periodic checks are needed to ensure control measures of intrinsic risk.
  • Moderate Risk:Efforts should be made to reduce risk, however, when moderate risk is associated with extremely harmful consequences, it should be determined and the implementation of continuous improvements should be adopted as a measure of risk control.
  • Important risk:it is important not to allow work until there are considerable resources to control risk. Once fully or partially controlled the process should be reviewed periodically to ensure the workers’ safety.
  • Intolerable Risk:It is important not to allow work until the level of risk is reduced. If it is not possible to reduce risk, work should be banned or prohibited.

The INSHT with the value of the risk obtained and comparing it with the value of the tolerable risk, results in the tolerability of the risk in question. The result of the risk assessment should be used to make an actions and prevention plans.

Source: National Institute of Safety and Health at Work in Spain.