• Paul Thompson

Health and safety - how to manage risk

Updated: May 7, 2018

'She'll be right' just doesn't cut it anymore, Health and Safety is a huge growth area in the New Zealand workplace - I've recently been made aware of a business that was heavily fined because a worker, who lost a couple of digits by sticking his hand where he shouldn't have by taking the safety guard off a machine! - the company found itself liable because the worker had access to a screwdriver to remove the safety guard!!

Different businesses will have different health and safety risks. It all depends on the type of work you do.

A healthy and safe workplace starts with identifying and understanding what your work-related health and safety risks are; particularly those that have the potential to cause people serious injury or illness. It then involves doing what is reasonable, what is practical and what you are able to do to eliminate or, where they can’t be eliminated, minimise those risks. This is what we refer to as proportionate risk management.

Your focus should be on managing your business’s most significant risks before managing less serious risks. Your work activities should be reviewed on an ongoing basis to identify any new risks that need to be managed.

Here we've pulled together some general guidance on how to manage your work health and safety risks. This includes a framework that guides you through the process for identifying, assessing, managing and controlling risks.

We've also developed some industry-specific examples and guidance to help get you started.

Managing your work health and safety risks

The following risk management framework describes four steps that can help you with managing your workplace health and safety risks.

Plan: Identify and assess the risks

Do: Eliminate or minimise the risks

Check: Monitor the control measure

Act: Review for continuous improvement

You should review your work activities on an ongoing basis to identify any new risks that might need to be managed.

Reviewing also means thinking about the way you identify, assess and control risks – do your processes work, or is there a better way to do these activities. For example, could you involve workers more, do you need to have a different method to assess consequences and the likelihood of the risk happening, and could you improve the way that you monitor your risk control effectiveness?

It's not all about paperwork

Good paperwork does not equal good health and safety.

Documentation should be used where appropriate to support your health and safety processes. Documentation is not however a substitute for having good processes and control measures in place to actively manage your health and safety risks.

Identifying, assessing and managing work risks (PDF 404 KB)

How to manage work risks (PDF 55 KB)

Reasonably practicable (PDF 44 KB)

Work Safe New Zealand

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