EHS Risk Management 101: 6 Places To Assess Risk

[fa icon="calendar"] Tue, Sep 20, 2016 / by Rachel Beavins Tracy

Risk management is critical to achieviEHS Risk Management 101: 6 Places To Assess Riskng EHS goals like preventing injuries and staying in compliance. However, the trick is knowing when and how to apply Risk Management tools appropriately.

In this post, we’ll look at 6 areas to leverage quantitative Risk Assessment tools to make sure you’re getting the most from your EHS Management System.

1. Corrective Action

Risk Management tools available in the EHS Management System can dramatically improve the effectiveness of your Corrective Action processes. There are two key features to activate here:

  • Risk-based filtering. Without assigning a risk level to each open corrective action request, there’s no way to know which items are likely to cause bigger problems and which aren’t critical in the short term. Filtering your corrective actions by risk means you can more effectively prioritize your work, ensuring high-risk items don’t fall through the cracks and snowball into larger problems.
  • Final verification. In addition to automatically routing corrective action requests through review, root cause analysis and action taken, EHS Software can also provide one essential final step: verification that the corrective action was effective. By calculating residual risk, you can easily see whether to close out the corrective action. If risk is still unacceptably high, further steps are needed.

2. Regulatory Compliance

Staying in compliance is a huge challenge for many companies, and not just because there are thousands of OSHA and EPA requirements to comply with. The problem is companies don’t have visibility into their compliance risks.

The answer is to perform a gap analysis informed by risk:

  • Compile all legislative and regulatory requirements that apply to the company in one place (something the right EHS Software will do for you).
  • Link requirements to existing controls.
  • Identify which requirements have no controls, or where controls aren’t sufficient to prevent noncompliance. These are your compliance gaps.
  • Calculate the risk associated with each compliance gap to determine which ones you need to address first. 

3. Audit Noncompliances

Audits generate a ton of findings, everything from critical noncompliances down to minor housekeeping issues that can be fixed on the spot. The biggest task at the end of an audit is determining what’s most deserving of follow-up, and that’s where risk comes in handy.

Similar to the above examples, automated Risk Assessment tools in the EHS Management System can quantify the risk associated with each noncompliance. The results then help you prioritize your follow-up corrective actions, helping you quickly remedy the most pressing problems first.

4. Job Safety Analysis

Job Safety Analysis (JSA) involves breaking down a work procedure into its component steps, evaluating hazards and outlining controls to prevent an accident from occurring.

There are many ways you can improve the quality of JSAs, however one of the most essential steps is making risk management part of the equation. Advanced EHS Software solutions let you drop risk tables into each step of the JSA, also giving you a risk ranking for the entire procedure as a whole. This is key to understanding when controls are sufficient to protect employees, and where a procedure might need further analysis to mitigate hazards.

5. Emergency Response Planning

Crisis Management is a central part of the EHS professional’s role. However, it’s important to prepare for the right situations and not get bogged down in all the zillions of possibilities for failure.

If you’re trying to determine whether to plan for a certain crisis in your Emergency Response Plan (ERP), a risk matrix can help you calculate the overall risk (likelihood multiplied by severity) of a given situation. If the calculated risk is above the level of acceptable risk as defined by the company, you probably need to include it in your plan.

For low probability, high impact events, you can use bowtie analysis to delineate preventive controls to avoid the situation, as well as recovery controls to mitigate the consequences if it does happen. 

6. Supplier and Subcontractor Management

Suppliers and subcontractors can introduce significant risk to your organization. Your company’s name is on the line, and neither the public nor regulators will let your company off the hook if a supplier issue causes a major incident.

Your EHS Management System should include tools to incorporate risk assessment into your supplier management efforts. In addition to risk-based corrective action filtering as described earlier, look for systems that allow you to create detailed Supplier Ratings that include a risk assessment of each supplier.

If you ask EHS managers what their job entails, the answers would probably range anywhere from avoiding injuries to preventing unplanned releases to keeping the company in compliance. But ultimately, all of these boil down to one thing—reducing risk—and the only way to do that is to make it a part of every decision you make.

Learn success strategies for ISO 14001

Topics: EHS Risk Management

Rachel Beavins Tracy

Written by Rachel Beavins Tracy

Rachel Tracy is a writer for EtQ with expertise in environmental, healthcare and technology topics. She has a master’s degree from Vanderbilt University and has been writing for businesses since 2008.

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