A Methodology for Harmonizing Safety and Health Scales in Occupational Risk Assessment

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 May 1;18(9):4849. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18094849.


Successful implementation of Health and Safety (H&S) systems requires an effective mechanism to assess risk. Existing methods focus primarily on measuring the safety aspect; the risk of an accident is determined based on the product of severity of consequence and likelihood of the incident arising. The health component, i.e., chronic harm, is more difficult to assess. Partially, this is due to both consequences and the likelihood of health issues, which may be indeterminate. There is a need to develop a quantitative risk measurement for H&S risk management and with better representation for chronic health issues. The present paper has approached this from a different direction, by adopting a public health perspective of quality of life. We have then changed the risk assessment process to accommodate this. This was then applied to a case study. The case study showed that merely including the chronic harm scales appeared to be sufficient to elicit a more detailed consideration of hazards for chronic harm. This suggests that people are not insensitive to chronic harm hazards, but benefit from having a framework in which to communicate them. A method has been devised to harmonize safety and harm risk assessments. The result was a comprehensive risk assessment method with consideration of safety accidents and chronic health issues. This has the potential to benefit industry by making chronic harm more visible and hence more preventable.

Keywords: World Health Organization disability assessment schedule; diminished quality of life; health and safety risk; quality of life; risk management; risk matrix.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Occupational Health*
  • Public Health
  • Quality of Life*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Management
  • Safety Management