Risks are what threaten safety, especially unfamiliar or complex risks that challenge your usual ways of keeping safe. In your safety case you are making the commitment that you can achieve your safety goals despite the risks you expect to face, so you need to demonstrate that you understand what those risks are.

Understanding your risks  [s30(1)(e)], [s30(1)(l)]

Your safety system (and other business systems) must be built to handle the types of risks you face, so it’s crucial that you understand what they are and how they vary depending on your activities. It’s also important to ensure your workers and their representatives are involved in identifying, assessing and considering the management of these risks.

For example:

  • seemingly similar activities (eg doing maintenance during the day and doing maintenance at night) may have very different risk profiles, and
  • very different activities (eg hosting a school group and shooting a film) may have the same risks.

It’s important your safety case demonstrates that you have considered your risks thoroughly to make sure your management systems are fit for purpose. A good way to show this is by describing some of the factors that lead to your significant risks and make them more difficult to control, for example:

  • What types of hazards are there? (eg long tunnels, bridges, hazardous goods)
  • Who is most likely to get harmed? (eg school groups, public, nearby workers)
  • What makes it harder to stop these risks harming people? (eg isolated environment, working at night, relying on casual workers).

When you’re describing your risk factors, ensure you also consider any seasonal or occasional activities, shutdown periods, commissioning of new equipment or special events.

How you assess your risks  [s30(1)(d)]

You should also demonstrate that you have the ability to assess your identified risks, prioritise the ones that need attention, and put in place safety controls to manage them.

There are many different ways to assess risk so your approach should be based on the nature of your operation. Your safety case then needs to describe your chosen risk methodology, your capacity to implement or adopt it and provide assurance that it will address your risks. It should also describe what you seek to achieve from each assessment method, including:

  • the types of risk it must be able to evaluate and compare
  • the information it must be able to work from
  • the information it needs to give you, and
  • how often you need to use it to assess risk.

Documents that may help you develop this section

  • Your organisational risk register
  • Examples of your different types of risk assessments
  • Risk assessments for your greatest hazards
  • Workshops from your hazard identification sessions