By: Shawn Shivers II

On July 25, 2005, a national consensus standard for a safety and health management system was issued.  This pronounced standard was named the ANSI/AIHA Z10-2005 and it applied to all organizations.  Following this standard, management was forced to adopt systems to meet these provisions within their organizations.  What’s more is, this called on safety professionals to be able to analyze hazards and assess associated risks.  Some may argue that hazard analysis are a very important fundamental when practicing safety.  If this is true, it is imperative for a safety professional to understand all aspects of a potential hazard. 

In general, the identification of a hazard and its potential to cause damage or harm, then deciding the probability of this hazard, is simply the effort involved in a risk assessment.  It is true that in a statement demonstrating risk level, one must include the probability of occurrence and severity of outcome.  Risk can be related to two aspects: (1) the probability of an undesirable event occurring, and (2) consequences related to this event.  In short, you have to understand that a risk can only exist if exposure to a substance or hazard presents itself. 

Next, in answering the question of whether a hazard analysis and risk assessment can really make a difference, we have to think in terms of a safety professional.  As maintained in Chapter one of Industrial Hygiene Program Management 2nd Edition, the author begins by claiming that seven characteristics define a profession.  Number one on the list is the “prevailing attitude of altruism.”  In the author’s opinion a true professional should have a great deal of altruism for his or her career (Green, Ross, & Pierce, 2000).  If this is the case, then my answer to the question is yes.  Having an unselfish passion to serve the needs of others and accurately identifying hazards and potential risks will go a long way in the safety profession.   

Furthermore, recognizing the relativity between a hazard, hazard analysis, risk, and risk assessment, allows for understanding the significance of the hazard analysis and risk assessment process.  In other words, this acceptance of the hazard/risk relation will aid a safety professional in their practice in the field of safety.  It also answers the question; Can Hazard Analysis and Risk Assessment make a difference? 

To put it briefly, I believe that the Hazard Analysis and Risk Assessment process can make a difference.  I feel that it greatly benefits an organization because it allows for consideration of various issues that may cause business downtime.  It also benefits the safety and health professional in that, it gives way to learning new advancements and allowing for career enhancement, which ultimately creates job retention.  Manuele (2008) stated the following:  If all safety professionals accept the premise that hazard identification and risk assessment are to be the first steps in preventing injuries to personnel, a major concept change in the practice of safety will have been achieved.  Adopting that premise takes the focus away from what have been called the unsafe acts of workers and redirects it to work system causal factors.  In my opinion, this process not only saves jobs, more importantly, it saves lives.