Safetip #94: Appoint a Facilitator to a Risk Assessment Team

August 30, 2017
By Jean-Grégoire Manoukian

This week’s Safetip is about risk assessments and the role of a facilitator in a risk assessment meeting.

A risk assessment helps to identify workplace hazards that can create risks of harm to workers. Once risks are identified, the likelihood and severity of each risk are assessed, which allows to prioritize risks for mitigation. This is followed by a determination of control measures to reduce or eliminate risks.

The Role of Risk Assessment Facilitator

The ASSE Risk Assessment Institute has developed a series of videos to help occupational safety and health (OSH) practitioners develop competencies in OSH risk assessment and management. One of these videos is about facilitating risk assessment.

The ASSE video highlights the importance of appointing a facilitator as part of the risk assessment team. The facilitator has responsibility for the success of a risk assessment meeting. During the meeting, the facilitator must decide the task, process or work area that will be the subject of the first risk assessment. This helps to determine the key stakeholders. To be successful, the ASSE video recommends that facilitators do not start with the most difficult or riskiest area, but instead start small by picking an easy risk assessment first, ideally one where stakeholders will welcome the risk assessment.

A Risk Assessment Facilitator Must Be Neutral

A facilitator can be internal to the department or group performing the risk assessment, or external to it, meaning someone from the same company, but a different part of it. Often, the chair of the meeting acts as a facilitator. But if the meeting chair has a stake in the outcome or their skills are important for people to understand risk assessment concepts, they can’t be facilitators and an external, neutral third-party with facilitation skills should be brought in, ASSE says.

The most important requirement to be a successful facilitator is to be neutral in all discussions. Participants are responsible for the outcomes of a risk assessment meeting, not the facilitator. But the facilitator must foster the discussions to make sure they lead to outcomes. The facilitator must be a neutral party by not taking sides or expressing opinions during the meeting. A facilitator can also be a learning or dialog guide to assist the group in thinking about its assumptions, beliefs and values.

Here’s the full video from ASSE:


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