Frequently an engineer, safety practitioner or other person in a company is given an assignment to lead the risk assessment effort. Where does one start? How to improve an existing approach that is lacking in some way? The challenge becomes whether to invent something new, or to research other existing solutions. This book addresses these questions by drawing together many of the existing methods and providing guidance on the risk assessment process.
This book is written for the engineer, safety practitioner, or manager who faces responsibility for assessing the risks of equipment, product, facility or system designs. It will help them identify hazards, assess risks and reduce risks as best they can, and to help them communicate more effectively about risk. The book is intended to be a practical resource with a strong emphasis on applied material, but some theoretical discussion is necessary. In certain situations terms, definitions or methods are presented based on the author's experiences or knowledge that do not agree with existing documents used by risk assessment specialists. Where conflicts occur, the solution presented is the one best suited for the non-specialist user for them to most rapidly and effectively learn and conduct a risk assessment.
The pace of improvements and deployments of the risk assessment process in industries today makes keeping up difficult. The causes behind all this progress are many, as discussed in detail in the book. In many ways it is hard to know where one stands in absolute terms or relative to others. Best practices are often hard to identify given the proprietary nature of risk assessment. This book helps sort out the issues and establishes the current state of the art in risk assessment methods at the beginning of 2004.
The risk assessment movement picks up speed as the benefits to safety, productivity, cost reduction and other aspects are realized. Just a few short years ago, the precursor to this book was a 31 page technical report (Main, 2000), As the risk assessment process crosses industry lines there is a need to understand how different industries and companies approach risk assessment. The risk assessment process will continue to grow, evolve, improve, and deploy in the coming years. The rewards of implementing risk assessment are high, the costs are relatively low, and the simple concept of "getting it right the first time" is too obvious to ignore.
Much of the risk assessment process is subjective. Most engineers and many safety practitioners dislike subjective methods. Efforts to improve the risk assessment process often focus on finding a more objective, repeatable and better method. This book assists the reader in understanding the elements of risk assessment, why they are subjective, and the options to consider in selecting or designing an alternate method. Or, by understanding the available options the reader may become more comfortable with the subjective aspects of the risk assessment process.
This book is unique in that it crosses many industry lines in some depth. Other authors have written excellent works on how to assess risks in a given industry. This book is the first that draws together many diverse industry methods with sufficient detail to permit some comparisons among the approaches.]]>