Last updated April 2020
This chapter explains how to assess the level of risk associated with hazards you have identified in your workplace.
What is a risk assessment?
Risk assessment is the process of evaluating:
- the consequences expected from an incident arising out of a hazard, e.g. a fatality, permanent disability or injury requiring medical/hospital treatment, first aid and/or time off work; and
- the probability of this incident occurring.
A risk assessment is the second step in the risk management process.
Risk management is a process that includes hazard identification, risk assessment and the implementation, monitoring and review of control measures to reduce risks to the health and safety of workers.
Risk assessments help to determine which hazards require the most urgent attention, i.e. by introducing control measures to eliminate or reduce any risk arising from those hazards.
Case Law: Confeta Pty Ltd (2018)
In 2018, SafeWork NSW prosecuted Confeta Pty Ltd (Confeta), which was a business that manufactured baking products, such as baking cups and cake boxes. As part of the manufacturing of baking cups, Confeta used a ‘folded cup machine’, whereby a sheet of paper was placed on a die plate, before a foot pedal was used to plunge the die into the paper. When in operation, the die plate and die were approximately 200 degrees Celsius.
In August 2012, a new employee was taught how to use the folded cup machine. As the employee was going too slow, her supervisor taught her an alternative method of using the machine. After showing the employee this alternative method, the supervisor left the employee unsupervised and, while unsupervised, the employee’s hand was caught in the machine and crushed under the die. The employee suffered severe crush and burn injuries, and was discharged from hospital a month later.
The District Court found that Confeta had failed to undertake numerous steps to identify and minimise the risk of injury to workers, including a failure to conduct documented or formal risk assessments of the machines.
The District Court imposed fines of $150,000 for the incident and $3,750 for a failure to notify SafeWork NSW of the incident. The Managing Director also pleaded guilty to failing to exercise due diligence and a fine of $25,500 was imposed.