This site will look much better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.
A risk assessment is an examination of the aspects of a task that may expose workers to an increased risk of injury. The purpose of a risk assessment is to determine whether enough has been done to control the risk or whether further control measures need to be put in place.
A risk assessment involves evaluating the extent of exposure to assess how great the risk is. This includes determining magnitude (how much), duration (how long), and frequency (how often, how fast). To take the extent of exposure into account, consider questions such as the following:
WorkSafeBC's (Workers' Compensation Board) Worksheet B, MSI Risk Factor Assessment, can help employers assess the risk of MSI in their workplace.
No. There is no legal requirement for an MSI risk assessment to use numbers to score the level of risk.
WorkSafeBC produces Worksheet A - MSI Risk Factor Identification (PDF 302 KB) and Worksheet B - MSI Risk Factor Assessment (PDF 421 KB) for employers who do use numbers to score the level of risk to workers. NOTE: These worksheets are not intended to identify or assess MSI risks associated with moving or lifting people.
WorkSafeBC also issues risk factor guidance sheets that employers may wish to consider when doing their assessment. Currently, guidance sheets are available on the following topics:
The risk assessment should include all risk factors that pose a significant (moderate or high) risk of injury. Where there is no exposure, or exposure to the risk factor is low, this will usually mean that the risk itself is low and no further risk risk assessment is required.
WorkSafeBC has several risk assessment tools to help identify and assess the level of risk (low, moderate, or high). See the list of these tools - worksheets and risk factor guidance sheets - above.
The depth of an assessment, and the amount of detail included, depends on the complexity of the task and the number and types of risks that workers are exposed to. Simple tasks or clearly identifiable risk factors with known and easy-to-implement risk controls may not require very deep or detailed assessment.
Most activities contain risk factors, and the mere presence of a risk factor may not in itself result in an injury. However, the lack of injuries may not accurately indicate the level of risk.
Worker susceptibility varies widely due to many different factors, including work-related factors such as long-term cumulative exposure and non-work-related factors such as age and gender. Thus when current workers have been exposed for even longer, or when they get older, they may become susceptible to injury even if nothing about the job itself has changed. Similarly, new workers, with different characteristics than the current workers, could be more susceptible to injury when doing the same work.
Risk assessment should be undertaken proactively - to prevent injury - in jobs where exposure to risk factors is potentially significant (where the risk is moderate or high).
Sometimes a risk assessment may have to be carried out reactively - for example, after a workplace accident/incident has occurred. This assessment will form the basis of the accident/incident investigation.
WorkSafeBC's MSI Investigation Chart (PDF 295 KB) can be used to correlate risk factors with specific body parts when investigating injuries or signs and symptoms of MSI.
MSI risk assessments do not usually need to be written down. In cases where the risk of injury is high and controls are not obvious, it is good practice to record the assessment. A WorkSafeBC prevention officer may require that risk assessments be documented in certain circumstances.
When a risk assessment is carried out as part of an accident/incident investigation, the significant findings of the assessment need to be recorded as part of the investigation.
Risk assessment should be performed by someone who understands the task being carried out, the MSI risk factors, and the principles of risk assessment and control. This could be a member of the joint health and safety committee or an external consultant.
Many risk assessments are straightforward to conduct, requiring minimal training. However, some tasks may require a more detailed assessment and professional assistance may be required. Certain professional organizations, such as the Association of Canadian Ergonomists (ACE), or the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), can provide a list of qualified consultants who offer assistance in risk assessment and control.