There a generally three accepted risk management approaches available to business:
A robust safety management system should represent a balance of the three approaches, as each by itself will yield poor safety results, however when used in combination provide a potent tool to assure workplace safety.
Business’ who understand the difference between the different approaches and the advantages and disadvantages of each and when they are best applies can gain considerable advantages resulting in positive safety performance. This positive safety performance, using the balance of the three approaches, benefits business productivity by virtue of minimising costs associated with injury or illness and regulatory non-compliance penalties.
Having a well-balanced safety management system using these three approaches also sends a positive message to workers – that the business cares about their safety and is working actively to anticipate and prevent injuries or accidents.
The basic purpose of each approach to risk management can be best summarised below:
Reactive: mitigate severity of safety events and threats
Proactive: identify safety concerns before safety events happen
Predictive: anticipate future exposure based on past performance data
Reactive approaches to risk management are often perceived as the lowest or most basic form of risk management and are generally thought to be present in business which does not have a developed safety program or lacks a culture of safety. It can be seen however, that reactive approaches to risk management have a place in all business safety management systems, including mature ones. Safety management systems lacking a reactive element leave themselves vulnerable in unpredictable or undesirable risk environments.
Reactive risk management represents the ability for safety personnel and workers to implement good safety measures without premeditation, this however requires years of experience and risk management training.
Reactive risk management strategies are best applied in the following situations:
In new business’ who do not have the requisite safety data to practice proactive or predictive risk management
In response to critical safety events
In dealing with threats that suddenly arise in the operating environment
Critical underpinning factors to support Reactive Risk Management are:
Quality risk management training for all employees
Strong processes regarding safety behaviour (procedures, checklists, desired safety behaviours etc)
Good hazard and risk fluency for identifying and assessing safety
Ability to deal with more safety events as the business learns