Is your safety assessment- like it should be? Does it perform so in order to eliminate/mitigate correspondingly the risk at the workplace? Is it sufficiently simple to be implemented and performed by people with a limited technical knowledge regarding your enterprise? Is it sufficient complex in order to catch the main features that are important in order to preserve safety and health at the workplace?

Our research- started in 2011 and aided by the participation in two FP7 research programs was centred towards the improvement of safety assessment from the following points of view:
  • To make it more simple to implement, to be performed and also more unobtrusive;
  • To make it more efficient- so that a safety assessment for a process enterprise of more than 1500 workers should be finished in 3-5 days.
  • To make it more objective and reliable. Any data collection that is not based on measurements has a more or less degree of subjectivity. Is the work hard? Are the work conditions not proper? These are some very subjective questions from former safety assessment checklists;
  • To make the results utile, disseminable and ready to be used as periodically lesson learned for the employees. Do we need lessons to be learned on the same subject? We need because the capacity of forgetting bad things is enormous and as Trevor Kletz said once ”the causes of accidents are repeating again and again);


The Safety Assessment must be predictive, comprehensive and systematic.
A Safety Assessment is somehow similar with the military observation on an enemy fortification. The scouts are identifying the position of armament, the number of troops that are kept in the fortification, the path towards that fortification; a safety assessor (auditor) should identify and assess the safety aspects regarding the facility, employees and work equipment.

A comprehensive Safety Assessment must:

• cover all hazards, potential major incidents and possible consequences;

• address all of the aspects of risk for each hazard and incident (nature, likelihood etc.)

• cover all areas and phases of operation of the assessed workplace/facility including start-up, shutdown etc.

A systematic Safety Assessment must employ a logical, transparent and reproducible process which enables the assessor to understand the existing history of incidents, compare the range of incidents and identify which are the most important contributors to the overall risk profile of the facility.

The following factors lead to a successful Safety Assessment:
• The Safety Assessment should be workable and relevant to the workplace/facility.
• The necessary knowledge should be assured. If the auditor is not familiar with the facility- the usage of facility experts would be required.
• The obtained significant results information is provided to all the employees from the workplace that requires it to work safely.
• Consultation before assessment with the employees occurs- involving them actively in the assessment process.
• Uncertainties are explicitly identified and reduced to an acceptable level.
• All methods, results, assumptions and data are documented.
• Risk control measures and their effects on risk are explicitly addressed.
• The Safety Assessment is used as a basis for adopting risk control measures, including improvements to the Safety Management System and emergency planning.
• The Safety Assessment is regularly maintained and used as a ‘live’ document.

The auditor team would assess- at the first sight- what could be wrong regarding safety for the workplace that is been audited. This assessment should be done systematically, considering all the risks that are really acting at the workplace and also their interaction.
On the other side, the assessment team could  search for specific causes of a possible unexpected event- considering directly the profile of the workplace and what could went wrong.

Safety Assessment had three distinct periods:

A. Preparation for the assessment

B. the Assessment itself

C.Analysis of the results and development of the improvement plan.


Most of the safety laws in place are requiring a periodic safety assessment. Sometimes, the facility management could decide a safety assessment for various reasons: an increasing number of incidents, problems with the production or the quality of the products, social unrest, etc.
The phase of preparation for assessment is very important because a well prepared assessment means good results.
Before starting everything, the management should revise its resources and also its policy regarding the management of change. Perhaps that the result of the safety assessment would involve the allocation of a huge amount of resources- needed to improve the safety. Is management willing to invest these resources? Also, the assessment generally involves change. If the change is not well seen by the management- here could be a problem. Figure shows a schema for the preparation phase.

Figure 1. The preparation of assessment

From the figure we could see that every safety assessment should start from a need. This need could be legal or could be just the employees and management need for more safety. The management should identify the needs and proceed accordingly.
Once established the need- there should be fixed:
-the objectives followed by the safety assessment: such an objective could be ”perform the yearly safety assessment for facility X” or ”identify the causes of the incidents occurring in facility Y- incidents that costs us more than 50.000 Euro last year”. The objectives should be defined as clear as possible, considering that they are at the base of the assessment process.
-the areas in which the safety assessment will be made: those areas (and their border) should be fixed very explicitly- in order to have a clear assessment zone. Vague fixed areas could lead to unwanted discussions and other problems.
The rules of the”game” should be established in this step. If there is an external assessor- with his own checklists- these checklists should be validated by the management team. If there should be developed internal checklists- and assessment procedures- these should be correspondingly defined and well documented. If there are such procedures- these should be tailored with the external requests. There is no reason to define an internal risk level if this risk level could not be compared with other assessments.


The specific knowledge map for the main safety assessment activities is shown in the next figure.

Figure 2. The knowledge map

The Knowledge Map diagram can be accessed by clicking on the hyperlink

The first approach is shown in the figure 3.

Figure 3. Classic safety assessment approach

Another approach could start from what is obvious regarding the non-safety, identifying then the main problem(s) that could occur and analysing the root causes of this problem(s). Finally, a prevention plan could be developed having a relative referential of the importance of the problems and implicit of the causes that are determining these problems.
This approach is presented in the figure 4.

Figure 4. An improved safety approach

In using the second approach, the next form for global data collecting is useful.

Table 1. Safety assessment form nr. 1
Team of assessors (auditors)
Main(name and identification):
A1 : (name and identification):
A2:(name and identification):
Contact information (tel, e-mail, etc.):
Date of assessment:
Type of the risk
Name of the risk
Main Causes
Main Consequences of the risk


Others (please mention)
Description of the problem
Root cause 1
Root cause 2
Root cause 3
Possible consequences

Description of the problem
Root cause 1
Root cause 2
Root cause 3
Possible consequences

Here we could see that the usage of the root causes analysis could be helpful. Root cause analysis (RCA) is one of the simplest and more efficient methods of problem solving used for identifying the root causes of faults or problems. A factor is considered a root cause if removal thereof from the problem fault-sequence prevents the final undesirable event from recurring; whereas a causal factor is one that affects an event's outcome, but is not a root cause. Though removing a causal factor can benefit an outcome, it does not prevent its recurrence within certainty. Instead of the system with 5 root causes we have chosen a simpler solution with three root causes that could be more easily implemented. Also, in this kind of study- we have considered that a root cause could not always be immediately removed- but it could be mitigated.
Table shows an investigation form that would focus on main problems.

 Table 2 SAF 2 investigation form
SAF 2-SAFETY ASSESSMENT FORM no. 2 (in connexion with SAF 1)
Main problem no.
Description of main problem
Elements of main problem
Root cause 1
Root cause 2
Root cause 3

Work area

Equipment and tools

Human Factor

Organisation and management

An example of the data collection using this form is given below.

Table 3 Example of SAF 2 completion
SAF 2-SAFETY ASSESSMENT FORM no. 2 (in connexion with SAF 1)
Description of main problem
Elements of main problem
Root cause 1
Root cause 2
Root cause 3
At the maintenance workshop there are permanent incidents involving employees slipping over
Work area
The floor is always wet and greasy
There is no attention in transporting machineries that are leaking oil to and from the maintenance area
The employees from the maintenance workplace are not cleaning frequently and are not degreasing[1]
Employees are slipping and could injure themselves.
Equipment and tools
Equipment transported in the maintenance area is not checked upon leaking oil parts. [2]
There is no transporter that should isolate the equipment from the floor[3]
Maintenance workers are not checking and closing the oil and liquid alimentation points and are not emptying the reservoirs of machines and equipment’s transported to maintenance. [4]
The majority of equipment’s transported towards the maintenance workshop are leaking oil and various other processing liquids.
Human Factor
Insufficient attention to the greasy floor[5] [6]
Workers do not have work shoes that are not slippery[7]
A lot of employees that have no tasks to do at the maintenance workshop are however there – on a regular basis- being send by supervisors or line management to check if their equipment’s are ready[8]
The path towards maintenance workshop is circulated by too many employees- visibility is scarce, maintenance of the floor is inefficient and accidents could occur frequently.
There are no signs regarding wet and slippery floor[9]
The supervisors are not obliging maintenance workers to comply regarding the cleaning of the floor[10]
There is no periodic control regarding the state of the walking surfaces to and from maintenance[11]
No one cares if the management is not careful.

After filling up SAF 1- on the basis of SAF2- a comprehensive list of risks should result- as a result of the safety assessment process.
For each risk we would give an importance code- we are considering that this importance code is more significant that the probability/gravity/exposure assessment- because:
  • Generally, the probability of the apparition of a specific risk is guessed- without a history that is learned. Large companies (like the former Imperial Chemical Industries) have such a history- and perhaps they are disseminating it to their branches. Smaller companies are generally guessing it.
  • Gravity/severity is also a debatable notion. Evidently that everything that could injure the worker should have the  correspondingly value- but we can have occasional and incidental injuries- like cutting the hand in a rough surface- and  explosions or fires.
We are using- for this kind of assessment- a three value scale of the importance of risks.
This scale is shown below

Table 4- Scale of risk importance
Importance of identified risk -Value
This risk should be eliminated immediately  before proceeding to work
This risk should be eliminated/ mitigated ASAP. Plans should be made and be implemented regarding this risk.
This risk should be mitigated in time. The activity could function taking into consideration this risk

The general risk level of the enterprise is given by the ponderate media of the number of 3 and 2 type risks- in the case that such risks exists. If not, the risks assessed with 1 are considered. In order to be able to compare different risk levels- a reduction of the obtained value should be made towards a 1…5 risk scale

Table 5-Scale of global risk level given by the assessment
Estimated risk level- Value
Immediate measures should be taken at the enterprise/facility level in order to eliminate the risks of importance 3.
Measures should be taken ASAP to eliminate risks of importance 3 and to eliminate/mitigate risks of importance 2.
Measures should be taken ASAP to eliminate/mitigate risks of importance 2.
Risks of importance 1 are numerous and it should be developed and implemented a plan of mitigation for this kind of risks.
Insignificant risks

[1] At least one of the employees of the maintenance workplace should have as a task the cleanup of the access floor at least once in two hours of work.
[2] Every equipment should be checked upon before transportation to the maintenance woprkshop. There should be checked that the alimentation and greasing reservoirs are empty and also that the feed-up of these reservoirs is closed or blocked by the maintenance worker.
[3] A four wheel transporter that is sufficiently large  and that assures the collection of the spills for all the equipments being sent to maintenance should be purchased
[4] Procedures for handling equipment being transported to the maintenance workshop should be developed .
[5] A distinctive part of the safety training should be instered- like ”Mind your step in safety”
[6] Signs showing ”Greasy floor” should be put in visible places.
[7] An aquisition item for PPE and WE should be ”shoes with non-slippery soles”
[8] Access to the maintenance workshop should be regulated- indicating the persons that have the right to be there. Telephone or e-mail contact should be put in place- to avoid sending employees to check if the maintenance was done.
[9] Management should verify periodically that as long as the follor is wet/greasy there are signs that are showing this placed in visible places and that could be seen by all workers.
[10] Clean-up procedures should be developed and implemented- considering a rigorous control – the clean-up workers that are designed to clean the greasy floor should sign- after doing the activity- so that their signature is stating that the floor is OK.
[11] A periodic control (at least twice a day) regarding cleaning should be implemented.