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Farm Safety – Risk Management And Risk Probability

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By Author: peter main
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Health and safety in a business is a crucial part of its ability to function, both in terms of its legitimacy, but also in terms of the well-being of the staff and their ability to function to their best capabilities.

Two major factors affect all areas of health and safety.

The environment where the work is being carried out, and the nature of the work itself. In many businesses these can be easily separated out and identified, and a risk management process put in place that can be relatively easily measured.

Most agricultural businesses, especially farms but other businesses as well, are much more difficult to quantify in terms of separating out the two, and by their very nature present a number of unique challenges to identifying and managing risk.

However, the need to identify and manage risk is as important in these businesses as in any other, whether it is done as a formal process, or managed in a more day by day, case-by-case scenario.

The first factor in any type of risk management is to understand the nature of risk, and the probability of something happening.

People tend to ...
... minimise risk because they perceived the probability of it happening as being fairly small, even if the consequences can be quite serious. This can apply to how a risk is managed, but should never apply to how a risk is perceived in the first place.

Probability is simply the likelihood of the chance of something happening. It does not by its nature say is a good or a bad thing, or how it should be managed, or what the consequences are. It is simply about exposure. It is however a key element to any type of risk management.

In farming, one of teh main risks is that of young people learning to drive and operate tractors and other agricultural machinery, although this is accepted as common practice in most farms.

If someone is not aware that there is a probability or a possibility of something happening then there is no way of identifying its consequences or management.

Many health and safety companies or experts use a wide range of different risk management models, some of which can seem quite complicated, but are all designed to in some way to show a structured process of how to identify and manage risk.

Irrespective of whether a formal process is used or not, most risk management models use a similar structure in terms of accessing a particular level of risk, and these can be used as a good starting point or yardstick to assess potential exposure.

Firstly is what is referred to often as frequent exposure. This is normally something that would occur on a daily basis, possibly even hourly basis. It does not mean that it is a high risk exposure, although it could be. It is simply about how often an individual or individuals are exposed to this type of hazard.

Secondly is what is normally referred to as possible exposure.

Again, this is less often than a frequent exposure, and is likely to refer to some type of hazard that happens quite regularly baby every week or couple of weeks, or possibly monthly it will depend on the nature of the risk.

It could easily refer something like an inspection of some type of machinery or plant processing that has to be done on a regular basis, but that regularity could vary depending upon the inspection needs doing. On afarm, it could easily refer to the need to effect repairs on a tractor or other piece of agricultural machinery that is needed in a hurry because of weather conditions.

Occasional exposure normally refers to something that is unspecified, but could easily happen at any given point, but normally fairly infrequently such as every year or couple of years.

Remote exposure

This is quite a tricky area but a really important one. This normally refers to a risk that is not likely to happen except as a one-off, but where the person doing the work is exposed quite regularly, and is therefore at risk themselves.

The last category normally used is normally referred to as improbable exposure. This really means that although something is unlikely to happen, it is a possibility and needs to be taken account of.

These categories of the different types of probability exposure are important because they are a good way of structuring an approach to clarifying different types of risk, and at the same time being able to see the nature of the risk in its proper context.

Peter Main is a freelance writer who specializes in agriculture and related matters with all major manufacturers, such as farm machinery, tractors, utvs, lawn and garden tractors, and snowblowers. He also writes extensively about all areas of tractor finance, including credit scores, insurance and loan pay offs.


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