Within the context of their general obligations, employers have to take the necessary measures for the safety and health protection of workers, including prevention of occupational risks. For preventing occupational accidents and ill health, employers must perform risk assessment regarding safety and health at work, and decide on protective measures to take and, if necessary, on protective equipment to use. Risk assessment, as referred before, is a legal obligation in Europe but it is also a good practice that contributes to keep companies competitive and effective. Risk is the combination of the likelihood of an occurrence of a hazardous event or exposure and the severity of injury or ill health that can be caused by the event or exposure[1]. From a psychosocial perspective risk is defined as the likelihood that psychosocial factors have a hazardous influence on employees’ health through their perceptions and experience and the severity of ill health that can be caused by exposure to them. It is important that employers know where the risks are in their organizations and control them to avoid putting in risk employees, customers and the organization itself. As referred, according to EU legislation employers are responsible for performing risk assessment regarding safety and health at work. Workers participation in the process of occupational safety and health risk management is fundamental, since workers are the actors that best know the OSH problems and the resources involved in their tasks.
Risk assessment is the process of evaluation of the risks arising from a hazard, taking into account the adequacy of any existing controls and deciding whether or not the risks is acceptable[1]. Risk evaluation involves the determination of a quantitative or qualitative value for the risk. Qualitative risk evaluation is more common and usually adopts a methodology based on a matrix, for instance the matrix proposed in British Standard 8800[4]. Based on the risk values obtained during the risk evaluation phase, risks should be sorted and ranked according to their severity. A decision whether or not a risk is acceptable result from the comparison of the obtained risk value with reference values defined in legislation. In this decision process it is advisable to take into account the individuals’ total exposure to risk, allowing for the fact that they could be exposed to risks associated with a number of different hazards[4]. It should be highlighted that a particularly careful assessment of individual risk exposure should be performed to workers of special groups (for example, vulnerable groups such as new or inexperienced workers), or to those most directly involved in the highest risk activities] (i.e. This risk classification is the baseline for selecting safety actions to be implemented and when defining the timescale, i.e. As an example, table 2 depicts a simple risk categorization and the respective guidance to the application of corrective safety measures proposed by[4]. To have a consistent base for all risk assessments the company should first establish the acceptability criteria.


Risk control is the stage where the actions to identify and implement safety measures to control risks are performed having in mind the protection of workers’ health and safety, as well as their monitoring over time. It is very important to take account of the number of individuals exposed to the risk when setting priorities and timescales to the implementation of safety control measures. The first step of risk control is the design of the safety control measures to eliminate risks.
The risk management process should be reviewed and updated regularly, for instance every year, to ensure that the safety measures implemented are adequate and effective.
This is also a highly recommendable procedure since workplaces are dynamic due to change in equipment, machines, substances or work procedures that could introduce new hazards in the workplace. The review of the risk management process should consider a variety of types of information and draw them from a number of relevant perspectives (e.g.
For instance, Last Minute Risk Assessment (LMRA) is a new tool, adequate to be used in companies where (acute) safety risks are relevant. This could be achieved through a risk management process, which involves risk analysis, risk assessment and risk control practices.
The main goal of risk management is to eliminate or at least to reduce the risks according to the ALARP (as low as reasonably practicable) principle. Several methods to perform risk assessment are available ranging from expert to participatory methodologies and from simple to complex methods.
Quantitative risk evaluation requires calculations of the two components of the risk: the probability that the risk will occur, and the severity of the potential consequences. The risks that cannot be avoided or eliminated should be reduced to an acceptable level, i.e. Another reason is that new knowledge regarding risks can emerge; either leading to the need of an intervention or offering new ways of controlling the risk.
Risks are estimated according to their likelihood and potential severity of harm, combining the severity and likelihood categories, as shown on table 1. Examples of physical hazardous situations can be working on a ladder, handling chemicals substances or walking on a wet floor. It should be demonstrated that the cost involved in reducing the risk further would be grossly disproportionate to the benefit gained. Summary Statement: This ILO document is a training package aimed at owners and managers of small to medium-sized enterprises to help them improve risk assessment and management of safety and health in the workplace. It is advisable that risk assessment should be done at least every year or every time a change is introduced in the workplace, for instance due to the introduction of new work equipment or procedure, or the use of a new chemical substance or preparation.


Risk assessment is a dynamic process that allows companies and organizations to put in place a proactive policy for managing occupational risks. A hazard is a source, situation, or act with a potential for harm in terms of human injury or ill health, or a combination of these[1]. According to the BS OHSAS 18001 an acceptable risk is a risk that has been reduced to a level that can be tolerated by the organization having regard to its legal obligations and its own OSH policy[1]. Therefore, the overall responsibility for identifying, assessing and controlling risks at the workplace lies with the employer, who must guarantee that the occupational safety and health (OSH) risk management activities are properly executed.
The safety measures implemented should be the ones that best protect everyone exposed to the risk. The European Safety and Health Agency (OSHA) have developed a risk assessment tools database with tools from all over Europe. Every time, before the work is started, workers confirm that there are no acute risks and that normal preventive measures are in place.
Documentation should provide an overview of the identified hazards, respective risks and subsequent safety control measures implemented. Carrying out risk management implies performing several steps (whose activities will be detailed in the next sub-sections). The main module is a self-help tool which covers the five steps of carrying out a risk assessment.
In order to carry out an effective risk management process, it is necessary to have a clear understanding of the legal context, concepts, risk analysis, assessment and control processes and the role played by all involved in the process. Therefore, risk assessment constitutes the basis for implementation of appropriate preventive measures and, according to the Directive; it must be the starting point of any Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Management system. Therefore, a hazard can be anything present in the workplace that has the potential to cause an injury to workers, either a work accident or an occupational disease. This means employers must perform a cost-benefit analysis to balance the cost (include money, time, trouble and effort) they could have to reduce a risk against the degree of risk presented[5]. Examples of psychosocial hazardous situations are job content, job insecurity, isolation, bullying or harassment, since employees’ health are affected by their perceptions and experience about work organization and other related factors[2].



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