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It is clear from the above mentioned legislation that risk assessment related prescriptions provide certain legal minimum requirements. In practice however, it actually offers little guidance on the way that compliance with the requirements is to be achieved. In the past, risk management in industry was also mainly focused on financial risk, not properly addressing the desired need.While this lack of prescription has the potential benefit of allowing a company to tailor risk assessment to its specific needs, it has the major disadvantage of providing little structure in an extremely wide, diverse and often apparently intangible field. This lack of prescription has led to the development of a vast range of procedures and processes by a wide range of researchers and consultants.

 

However, the Leon Commission of Inquiry, in line with UK regulation and ILO conventions, concluded that the mining industry should provide for risk management and mitigation in the management of occupational health and safety (OH&S). This recommendation was included as one of the corner-stones of the MHSA, in line with the thinking that OH&S is judged by the tolerance of risk and not by the absence thereof. In terms of section 11 of the MHSA an employer must assess and respond to risk.

 

At the opening of the Mine Health and Safety Summit in October 1998, the issue of the wide variation in content and quality of hazard identification and risk assessments (HIRA) being conducted at mines was raised. In the discussions that followed the summit it was agreed that it should be recommended to employers that mines should follow the principles contained in the booklet entitled: SIMRAC Practical Guide to Risk Assessment.

 

This recommendation was included in a set of recommendations arising from the summit, which was forwarded to employers by the Mine Health and Safety Council. Risk assessments are a chance to influence safety for a long time to come, and should be seen as a forum for doing that. Most important parts of the ‘‘SIMRAC practical guide to risk assessment’’ is integrated in this particular student manual.

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