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By: Thomas Carson

Bengals Headed to the Super Bowl – Pay Attention Safety Professionals!

Bengals Headed to the Super Bowl!  Now there is a sports headline that I never expected to see, and one that serves as a sharp reminder to safety professionals everywhere about not getting complacent with risk assessments – stuff happens, no matter how unlikely it might be.

Two weeks ago, I was talking with a safety professional friend about risk assessments.  Risk matrices are commonly found as a part of large organizations’ safety management systems, but it is not clear to me they are being used as effectively as they could be in most programs.  As a reminder, there are variations, but a basic risk matrix is a grid matching the likelihood, or probability, of an event occurring against the severity, or harm done, if it does happen.  The resulting risk score provides guidance for what should happen next, if anything, and how soon it should happen.

Assessing risk is at the heart of a safety professionals’ job description – a part of the daily routine.  But how often do they formally document the results of their risk judgements?  The very act of taking time to put thoughts down on paper offers a chance to pause and reflect – is that guarding solution really effective to keep limbs away from the splitter?  Is there some chance the Bengals could upset Kansas City in overtime in the conference championship game?

There is another, broader value that documenting risk assessments provides.  Assessing the risk associated with a current process or situation provides a basis for determining if action is required.  It also provides a baseline for measuring what impact the resulting actions have on reducing risks the organization faces, which is a key responsibility of a safety professional.  And this is what separates a great safety professional from the safety cops of the world.

I am interested in learning more about how you think of risk, and hope that you will reach out with your comments.

Go Bengals – you earned it, as unlikely as that seemed last month!

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