Thinking Differently about Workplace Safety Risks

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I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! is classic reality TV show. What could be better than putting a bunch of famous people in a jungle, surrounding them with creepy crawlies and putting them through gruelling challenges in return for food tokens?

To put you in the picture – if you’re not yet a fan – the first season of the Australian smash-hit TV series was filmed in the Kruger National Park. The series’ Risk Adviser described this experience as being “on another level”.

“We had a cast and crew of 400-plus people with hippos, lions and snakes everywhere – basically everything that can kill you,” he says. “Then we pushed celebrities downhill and had them swinging from hot-air balloons 50 metres above the ground. It was a monstrous undertaking and while I loved the challenge, it really tested my ability to manage risk.”

Clearly few workplaces face the same challenges. But the point of this anecdote is to illustrate that Risk Management shouldn’t be about preventing risk-taking; rather it should be about using it for opportunity and success!

Download our FREE Guide ‘The Key to a Winning Health & Safety Program: Behaviour Change’ to learn how to foster a safety culture and measure it.


According to the CEO of Wynleigh International Certification Services, Tony Cunningham:

“There’s been a shift in Risk Management thinking. In the past, Risk Management was often an exercise in avoidance and focused mainly on completing compliance-driven activities. Now many organisations are reviewing risk in terms of its potential to drive performance and value.”

Tony points out that the approach to risk in workplaces is going through a similar shift. “The safety profession is now looking at both leading and lagging indicators to examine safety and health risks present within an organisation,” he says.

As part of an effective Occupational Safety and Health (OS&H) program, you should track both lagging and leading indicators. Lagging indicators measure what has already happened and allow you to track the changes in incident rates over a specific time period in the past but are a poor gauge of prevention.

Leading indicators, on the other hand, help you to evaluate whether safety and health performance is improving and whether it will continue to improve in the future. They are proactive, preventative and predictive measures and focus on future safety performance and continuous improvement.

This evolution of the safety profession towards risk-based prevention analysis and continuous improvement culminated in the ISO 45001:2018 Occupational Health and Safety Management System standard.


ISO 45001:2018 helps to identify OH&S hazards, risks and opportunities and proactively manage workers’ wellness and safety. In addition, the standard calls on management and leadership to:

  • Integrate responsibility for health and safety issues into the organisation’s overall strategic plan
  • Demonstrate engagement with employees (and where they exist employees’ representatives) to create a safety culture that encourages active participation in the OH&S management system. This encourages workers to take ownership and adopt a risk-based thinking approach to health and safety risks and opportunities.
  • Ensure the OH&S management system is integrated into business processes.


Clause 6 of ISO 45001:2018 addresses the Assessment of Risks and Opportunities, which is a significant departure from OHSAS 18001:2007 as it requires proactive management of risks and opportunities.

Below are 4 important tips for managing risks and opportunities to meet the standard’s requirements:

  1. Plan a thorough induction training process for new staff.
  2. Invest in ongoing training.
  3. Peer reviews. Use Document Control Software to manage workflows and send risk assessment results to the wider business to get a complete view.
  4. Click to read our blog – Do Revised Standards Mean New Documents & Control Procedures?


ISO 45001:2018 stresses that all employees must actively participate in developing and improving the health and safety system. Culture is a major contributor to workplace safety. But culture is intangible, presenting a real challenge for organisations working towards ISO 45001:2018.

So how do you go about fostering a safety culture and measuring it?

Download our FREE Guide ‘The Key to a Winning Health & Safety Program: Behaviour Change’ to find out how.


Here at Risk ZA we have a collective experience of over 30 years in training, consulting and implementing ISO related management solutions, for organisations of all types and sizes in the Southern African region. We can assist you in assessing your Health and Safety risks and we offer a variety of ISO 45001:2018 training courses and consulting services to meet your needs.

For assistance and more information about our training and consulting services, call our friendly team on +27 (0) 31 569 5900 or email


Call us TODAY and SAVE! Use promo code WINTERSPECIAL when booking on any upcoming Online or Public Training Course to claim your exclusive discount. T’s & C’s apply. Offer valid until 30 August 2019.

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