Report: APP CMHS Project 4

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4.2. Limitations of the Australian Process

The original focus for risk assessments and risk management was very strongly directed at health and safety personnel. This has limited the use of risk management for broader business and productivity purposes. It has generated a psychological response that risk assessment is for safety systems or compliance with legislation; there is still some way to go in realising that risk management is a proactive decision making tool that will assist in making better mining decisions in general.

Throughout the implementation process, there was been a focus on the tools used in risk assessments. This may limit the focus on the outcomes for risk management and in some cases; the completion of the risk assessment was seen as the end of the process. The Regulatory process has also tended to focus on the process rather than the outcomes. This may have resulted from a lack of guidance information that focussed on the outcomes. There is often evidence of the conduct of the risk assessment and identification of controls; but there is less evidence of the implementation and verification that those controls are in place and achieving the desired outcome.

Although competencies and training materials were developed, the growth of these was somewhat erratic and reactive. These factors lead to some issues with the quality of the risk assessment application, due to a lack of understanding of risk management principles e.g. the re-ranking of risks; and an inadequate understanding of the adequacy of controls.

Some risk management concepts are still evolving e.g. the industry still tends to see people as a problem to be solved – not as a risk to be managed.

Some companies in the mining industry have recognised the need to plan a journey as part of the process of achieving maturity in risk management and health and safety. Regulators and the Unions have been more focussed on the processes in the industry, rather than what is happening to them. Regulators and the Unions need to map their own processes for moving towards a more mature risk management process.

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