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3F.002 Risk assessments – valuable tool or an exercise in futility
  1. Lisa Stevens1
  1. 1Lisa J Stevens and Associates Pty Ltd, Newport, Australia
  2. 2Visiting Fellow – School of Chemistry, University of NSW, Sydney, Australia


The question that is posed by this presentation is whether or not risk assessments are a valuable tool or an exercise in futility. Organisations are faced with a conundrum, as WHS/OHS Legislation identifies that employers must ensure the health and safety of people ‘so far as reasonably practicable This is done by identifying the hazard and controlling the risk.

But regulators state that the ‘method does not require elaborate systems or large amounts of paper to support it. How the method is put into action depends on the complexity of the hazards or risks, the nature of the organisation and how its business is conducted.

What happens if the risk assessment is wrong? Who is qualified to prepare a risk assessment? Assessing risk is not an exact science. It relies on knowledge, experience and an understanding of chemicals, processes and human behaviour. What one person considers as a risk another may not. This presentation also poses the question of whether or not having a poorly prepared risk assessment is better than having no risk assessment. Using case studies this presentation will examine the advantages and disadvantages of proprietary risk assessments along with other issues that are that seemed to have become urban myths when completing risk assessments.

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