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Is our appetite for risk increasing?

In the light of recent fatalities in the Australian extractive industry, Clayton Hill queries whether quarries and mines are too concerned with abiding with - and not paying enough attention to the effective implementation of - the safety and risk prevention controls that are meant to protect workers.

As an avid reader of Quarry, you will most likely be aware that each month the magazine has a particular focus in terms of content, this month being drill and blast, plant and equipment hire, and plant design.

Besides offering the reader a collation of technical content on the same subject, I often appreciate the opportunity to turn my thoughts to how the particular topic of focus impacts our industry.

This same approach is also being used by the IQA to talk about relevant issues facing our industry and also what products and services are available to the industry through the Institute.

This month, the IQA is focusing on risk management and you are likely to see this theme throughout our communications - be it from the desk of the CEO, through our social media posts or training courses on offer.

The IQA has a number of industry relevant training packages available, whether you are looking to obtain a new skill, meet your competency requirements or build on existing skills. Details on the risk management training courses, including course outlines and available dates can be found on the IQA’s website.

"Are our risk management practices too complex? Do we need to go back to basics and provide more training to our people?"

Risk management is an area that many of us are familiar with, but how much do we really understand the process of it? For many, risk management has become a more complex and sometimes confusing process.

Sure, we might understand JSAs (job safety analysis), JSEAs (job safety and environmental analysis), JHAs (job hazard analysis) or whatever other name your organisation has for them, identifying risk and applying controls using the hierarchy of controls, but are we really managing risk effectively or are we complying with a process to manage risk?

Safety in general over the past decade has moved away from the practical to very detailed, often time-consuming processes.

Our supervisors are no longer supervising but ensuring paperwork is filled out and getting the risk rating to the lowest number possible, rather than the most effective control.

I realise that I’m generalising and that these examples are not happening everywhere and there are some great examples of risk management within our industry, but I still have to wonder if we are normalising risk. Is our appetite for risk increasing?

Risk management is simply the description of a process of identifying, assessing and controlling threats. So are our current risk management practices too complex and are we really identifying, assessing and controlling the threats across our operations? Or do we need to get back to the basics? Do we need to provide more training to our people?

I appreciate that simplifying safety is easier said than done but now is the time to re-think about the way we manage risk within our organisations and how well we all understand and apply risk management practices. So I’ll leave you this month with two questions:

  1. What is the level of risk we are prepared to accept?
  2. What are we going to do today, tomorrow, next week, next month and into the future to ensure risk is being managed and everyone understands the most effective way to manage risk?

Have a safe and productive month ahead.











ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Clayton Hill
General Manager • Groundwork Plus

Clayton Hill is the principal operations consultant at Groundwork Plus, with over 12 years experience in the quarry industry in both the public and private sectors. 
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Saturday, 24 August, 2019 12:37pm
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